Bzzzzz: Heated quarrel between Niña Mabatid and Richard Yap over Barug slot for Cebu City north congressional seat: confirmed but no details.

·4 min read

CEBU City Councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid refused to give details about her verbal joust with TV actor Richard Yap but (1) she confirmed the information to Bzzzzz last June 19 (“grabe among tinubagay, as in grabe”) and (2) she posted the next day, June 20, a six-paragraph comment blasting Yap.

Mabatid didn’t name the TV celebrity in her FB post but it is of public knowledge that both she and the TV actor are competing for the Partido Barug slot in the city’s north district congressional race. And her FB blast contained broad clues, such as “artista nga nag-samuk2 dinhi sa Cebu” and “he is in politics for money” as ABS-CBN is already closed. She said she does not believe in his sincerity and is “no fan” of the man.

Yap ran as Barug official candidate in 2019 but lost by more than 134,000 votes to reelectionist, multiple-termer Representative Raul Del Mar, whose death November 16 last year has left the House seat vacant. One unconfirmed rumor was that Yap was promised a second chance to run for the same elective position, as he and Barug leaders knew the first try would be exceptionally tough and was thus a sacrifice for the neophyte politician.

”WINNABILITY.” Aside from the entertainment personality and the city councilor, other congressional timber may be found in Barug’s camp. But what occupy more public interest lately are Yap and Mabatid, because of the former’s celebrity status and the latter’s propensity to get into controversy. Known for his role as Richard “Sir Chief” Lim in the ABS-CBN 2012 teleserye “Please Be Careful with My Heart,” Yap got more than 80,000 votes in the last election, for which he thanked Cebuanos when he conceded defeat (“disappointing yet rewarding”). Months later, in an interview published December 24, 2020, Yap alleged vote-buying as the reason for his defeat. “I learned that good intentions were not enough because people still look for money when it comes to politics. We need to educate the people that the P500 they (each) got would cost them years of suffering.”

Mabatid landed #2, with more than 113,000 votes, the only other Barug survivor in the BOPK sweep of the north district 2019 councilors’ race. Overall citywide, she was #10 among 16 councilors.

She alienated a number of her colleagues though for allegedly not working with the team in the campaign. In the height of the pandemic, she reached out to voters and was vocal about not getting a fair share of the food and medicines form the local administration, which she wanted to dole out herself to her constituents.

She set off an uproar in Partido Barug when she alleged corruption and usurpation of executive functions against an “unelected” public official, a Barug personality whom she called last February “the ‘ungo’ or witch at City Hall” but had not yet identified since then.

Who has more “winnability”: Yap or Mabatid?

TO FACE BOPK BET. Barug’s candidate is expected to face BOPK’s Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” del Mar, the late congressman’s daughter, who had long announced her decision to continue her dad’s work and legac. Cutie served the House for one term (in 2010) and has been helping -- as representative of the north district’s caretaker, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco — oversee projects.

BOPK is assumed to field Cutie as her dad had been a BOPK stalwart and fought together with party chief Tomas Osmeña for more than three decades but Tomas might pull a surprise. In an interview (Episode #39) with The Not So Late Night Show by Jason Monteclar and in a speech at an assembly in Barangay Apas last March 28, Tomas said he was not naming any candidate yet as he would like to know who the party’s rivals would be. BOPK would assess the enemy fighter’s strength before picking the party’s own fighters.

2-PARTY FIGHT. Still, BOPK has other “probables” who notably include Mary Ann de los Santos. De los Santos won as Lahug barangay captain (repeatedly) and city councilor but also lost in races (a) for congresswoman in 2019, (b) for mayor (against Tomas Osmeña in 2007), and (c) the latest in 2019, for vice mayor (losing to Mike Rama).

Interestingly, Cutie del Mar defeated Mary Ann de los Santos in 2010 for the same House seat, getting 58.49 percent of the votes, against the loser’s 34.73 percent, or a Cutie plurality of more than 40,000 votes.

There were six other contenders but they shared in a measly five percent or so of the votes. In Cebu City, the fight is generally confined to the two parties, Barug and BOPK. The presence of other aspirants hardly makes a difference.

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