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Sparks fly in Batangas tiff



A tenacious clash is expected for the Batangas 6th District seat in the House of Representatives in May as movie star Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto matches up with current Lipa City Mayor Meynard Sabili.

This will be the second time that the Sabili clan challenges the superstar magic of Santos-Recto after the mayor’s wife, Bernadette, ran for congresswoman last elections and lost. Santos-Recto got 57.9 percent of the total votes.

In a previous interview with Sabili, he said he will pursue “change” in Congress by installing a “real” representative of the people at the House.

“I did not feel that. That is why I am running,” Sabili said.

The mayor vowed to give importance to health care and gender equality.
On the other hand, Santos-Recto is running for a second term in the newly created district.

Star of Batangas

Referred to as the “Star for All Seasons” due to her exemplary silver screen performances through the years, Santos-Recto had distinguished herself in the political field and is currently vice chairman of the House Committees on Globalization and Local Government.

Among the bills she shepherded are the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Law, New Social Security Services Act, Extended Passport Validity Act, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, Universal Health Care Act, National ID System Act and the Expanded Maternity Leave Act.

Santos-Recto was also a former Lipa City mayor and Batangas governor.

The rivalry of the Rectos and the Sabilis in Batangas has been legendary. Last 17 October or a few hours before the start of the filing of the certificates of candidacy, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) party canceled Sabili’s nomination.

Sabili accused Sen. Ralph Recto, Vilma’s husband, of making a call to NPC secretary general Dong Mendoza to drop him from the party.

Sabili emphasized that it was not the first time that Recto’s camp made a move against him. He said in the previous elections, he was kicked out of the Liberal Party and after he joined the National Unity Party, Recto again attempted to cancel his membership from the party. Recto’s camp remained quiet about the allegations.

Independent bet

Sabili will run as an independent candidate for the 2019 midterm elections.
On 27 June 2018, the Office of the Ombudsman was supposed to impose a one-year suspension without pay on Sabili for oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

Former Lipa Social Welfare Development Officer Teresita Pesa filed a complaint against the incumbent mayor after she was ordered reassigned and transferred to a different position.

This was not denied by Sabili as he said the reassignment was made due to efforts to clean the ranks in city hall.

He recently asked Senator Recto to stop intervening with local government politics, saying he received information he was pressuring the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to suspend him immediately.

Recto, however, denied allegations that he was meddling with Lipa City concerns and said he has not spoken with any DILG official with regard to Sabili’s suspension.

The Ombudsman order for Sabili’s suspension was not served after the Court of Appeals approved a 60-day temporary restraining order.

Last Sunday, he hosted Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s (HnP) campaign rally in Lipa City, Batangas.
The sortie was attended by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and several HnP candidates.