Former ABS-CBN-Davao broadcaster-turned-Cagayan de Oro-councilor Joyleen Mercedes “Girlie” Balaba on Friday, October 8, pledged her loyalty to her close friend, President Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, a day after she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for reelection.
While Balaba filed her COC under the ruling political group in Cagayan de Oro, she said her teammates “know that my loyalty belongs to the President and to Senator Bong Go, who is running for the vice presidency under the PDP-Laban.”
Balaba is known to have a special place in Duterte’s circle, and enjoyed his repeated endorsements during her 2019 campaign for a city council seat. She is also known to have easy access to Duterte during his visits to Cagayan de Oro.
But Balaba’s group, “Team One CDO and ONE Misor,” is anything but one in their political affiliations and candidates for the country’s top posts.
She filed her COC under the Alfonso Cusi-wing of the PDP-Laban while her ticket’s mayoral bet, Cagayan de Oro 1st District Representative Rolando Uy, is running under the National Unity Party. Uy has not made known his presidential bet yet.
Uy told Rappler on Friday that he would announce his support for a presidential candidate on the last day for substitutions set by the Comelec.
Their main supporter, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, filed his COC for governor of Misamis Oriental under the Cebu-based Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives (PROMDI) that has Senator Manny Pacquiao as presidential bet.
Still in her first office term as a councilor, Balaba submitted her COC for the 18-seat city council, ending months of speculation that she would seek a higher elective post with Malacanang’s backing.
No to Congress
Balaba, who topped the race for city council seats in the 2nd District in the 2019 elections, spurned offers for her to run for congresswoman against Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez or be the running mate of Uy’s rival, Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña of the PDP-Laban Cusi wing.
In late September, Uy claimed that Balaba agreed to run for congresswoman against Rodriguez, but the councilor maintained that she would seek reelection.
Balaba also spurned an offer from La Viña for her to run for vice mayor under him.
“I am a person who knows how to pay forward and give back. If you accord me with kindness, I will give back kindness to you. And that’s what I am doing with my local team. They have accepted me as part of their team when I was just starting out. They helped me through and through and I won in the previous elections. And I intend to give back what they gave and showed me this 2022. But they also understand that I most value loyalty,” Balaba said.
In her stead, Uy’s group fielded former Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Irene Austria-Floro as candidate for the congressional post against Rodriguez. Floro, incidentally, is a member of the People’s Reform Party of the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
On her Facebook page, Floro said she was in a “David versus Goliath” situation in her quest to unseat Rodriguez, a seasoned lawyer and politician. – with reports from Herbie Gomez/Rappler
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship