Naga City

Founder of pro-Robredo group denies positioning for Naga’s mayoral race

Rhaydz Barcia

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Founder of pro-Robredo group denies positioning for Naga’s mayoral race

CHIT CHAT. Kusog Bikolandia founder Noel De Luna (center) exchanges pleasantries with Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda (right) and other local politicians during a party in Legazpi City in late December.

Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda says he sees former vice president Leni Robredo's 'thank you' message for his friend as a likely political endorsement

ALBAY, Philippines – The founder of the Bikoleni Movement and Kusog Bikolandia party, which supported the 2022 presidential bid of former vice president Leni Robredo, has denied positioning for the 2025 mayoral race against Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion.

Businessman Noel De Luna said this as talk spread about his emergence as a potential candidate in Robredo’s home city after the former vice president sent him a message during his birthday party at Pepperland Hotel in Legazpi City on December 28. 

Robredo thanked De Luna for his support for her presidential campaign and his contribution in unifying local politicians in Camarines Sur through the Bikoleni Movement despite their political differences. 

“Ini an bagong brand of politics that we are pushing (This is the brand of new politics that we are pushing),” Robredo said in a video recording played during the event.

The 55-year-old De Luna was also acknowledged by Robredo for supporting her late husband Jesse, a former Naga mayor who served as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) until he died in a plane crash during the administration of the late president Benigno Aquino III. 

Despite his support for Robredo in 2022, however, De Luna joined the congressional race in the 3rd district of Camarines Sur that same year under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakulang Samahan, a group associated with former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, who graced De Luna’s birthday celebration along with several other local politicians, said he saw Robredo’s statements as a subtle political endorsement.

“Former Vice President Leni Robredo seemingly endorsed our philanthropist friend, Noel De Luna, to run in Naga but it would be better if he joined politics in Albay,” Salceda said.

De Luna, however, said he has no interest in becoming a candidate for a political position in Naga against Legacion, another politician who supported Robredo’s presidential bid. 

De Luna said he was too busy with his business ventures to challenge Legacion, whose candidacy he also supported in 2022.

He subsequently wrote a letter to Robredo, a part of which read, “I am writing to dispel rumors about my interest in entering Naga City’s political sphere. I wish to convey that at this moment, my attention and commitments are focused on other equally important aspects of my life exploring my potential in other fields of endeavors, no longer in line with local politics.”

De Luna added, “My various international business ventures demand considerable attention and deep commitments and require substantial focus on their nurturing and great expansion. However, in-depth and numerous discussions with members of my family resulted in the conclusion to forgo any political plans that I may have at this time.”

He, however, said he was committed to remain active in notable programs in Naga, which are dedicated to public service, transparency, accountability, and good governance. 

De Luna, a former radio broadcaster and owner of Bicol Bloc Magazine, founded the Kusog Bikolandia in 2018 as a “new breed of political party.” – Rappler.com

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