Lipa mayor to challenge Vilma Santos Recto in congressional race

BATANGAS, Philippines – The incumbent mayor of Lipa City in Batangas filed his certificate of candidacy for congressman of the 6th district of Batangas last Monday, October 15. He will run under the banner of the Nationalist People's Coalition. 

Mayor Meynard Sabili, who is on his last term, will challenge Congresswoman Vilma Santos Recto in the May 2019 elections.

"Gusto ko magkaroon ng pagbabago sa Kongreso, 'yung (magkaroon) ng tunay na representative ang taong-bayan. Hindi ko nararamdaman 'yon kaya tumakbo ako," he said in an interview.

(I want to see a change in Congress, for there to be a true representative of the people. I don't feel that, which is why I'm running.)

Sabili's wife, Bernadette, lost to Recto who got 57.9% of the votes during the last elections, making her the first representative of the lone district of Lipa City. But Sabili said he is not threatened by this.

"Sa isang gustong maglingkod, dapat 'wag matakot. Bigyan ng lakas ng loob ang sarili basta confident siya na kaya niyang maglingkod," he added.

(A person who wants to serve should not be afraid. He should encourage himself as long as he is confident that he can serve.)

If elected, Sabili said he would prioritize health care and push for gender equality.

Just last June, the Ombudsman meted Sabili with the penalty of one-year suspension without pay for Oppression and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service – a decision that was not implemented after he received a favorable reply from the Court of Appeals that granted a 60-day Temporary Restraining Order.

Convinced that the case filed against him was politically motivated, Sabili then called on Senator Ralph Recto to stop meddling with the affairs of the Lipa City government after receiving information that Recto has been pressuring the Department of Interior and Local Government to immediately serve the suspension order.

In a flag-raising ceremony last August, Sabili said: "Pasensya na po Senador at ako'y nagsasabi ng katotohanan, pero dahil sa power ninyo, gusto ninyo kami ay mawala na dito sa Lipa. Hindi na po tatakbo si Mayora (Bernadette) dito. It's because ayaw na niyang madagdagan ang paghihirap na dinadanas ng mga kababayan ko."

(I'm sorry Senator that I'm speaking the truth, but because you are powerful, you want us out of Lipa. Bernadette won't run anymore. It's because she doesn't want to add to the suffering of our fellow Filipinos.)

Bernadette is set to file her certificate of candidacy for mayor of Lipa City on Wednesday, October 17. – Rappler.com