By LITO RULONA and NITZ ARANCON
FORMER ABS-CBN Davao broadcaster Girlie Balaba yesterday admitted to be close to President Duterte but she quickly added: “Halos kitang tanan close sa President.”
Balaba said this as she was presented as among the administration PDP-Laban’s official candidates in the city during a news conference.
Mayor Oscar Moreno, who announced he would seek a third and final office term as the city’s chief executive, called Balaba an “asset” when he was asked if he saw the former broadcaster as some kind of a “secret weapon.”
Out of the blue came Balaba, who never held a public office in her life and who, until this week, was unheard of in local politics.
Moreno presented her as a “community leader” and a “true Kagay-anon” who is a “good addition” to his team.
Balaba is from Tomas Saco Street in Nazareth, a voteich barangay in the city’s 2nd District.
Moreno said it was Balaba who went to see him and asked if she could be one of his candidates for city council seats. He said he did not hesitate for a moment to welcome her to his political team.
Balaba was a prominent ABS-CBN personality in Davao where she met Duterte who was then the city’s mayor. The two are said to be very close to each other, something that Balaba did not deny but qualified by stating that “almost everyone is close to the President.”
At a news conference, Moreno presented PDP’s official candidates that include his 2016 running mate Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy, Rep. Rolando Uy for the 1st District, and Councilor Yan Lam Lim for congressman in the 2nd District.
Their candidates for the city council include Balaba and two other newcomers: former Agusan barangay chairman Andrew Melliza, and Moreno Daba Jr. whose late father and namesake Moreno Sr. served as councilor during the Magtajas administration.
Balaba and Melliza will be running in the 2nd District while Daba will be running in the 1st District.
Former councilors Edgar Cabanlas and Roger Abaday are making a political comeback and will run for city council seats in the 2nd and 1st districts, respectively.
Other candidates for the 1st district are reelectionist councilors Zaldy Ocon, George Goking, Jay Pascual, Romeo Calizo, Edna Dahino and Reuben Daba.
For the 2nd district: reelectionist councilors Maria Lourdes Gaane, Ian Mark Nacaya, Enrico Salcedo and Teodulfo Lao Jr..
Moreno described his ticket as a “strong and dedicated working force” that ensures “equal representation.” He said each candidate was chosen based on “performance and character.”