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Mayoralty debate goes pfft for ‘security reason’

Nick Abesamis and Abner Malabanan, Tayabas mayoralty candidates, arrive at the venue of
the cancelled debate. (Photo Credit Alan-ivy  Perez)

by Annadel O. Gob

TAYABAS CITY - A political debate for all the 4 mayoralty candidates here went pfft allegedly for ‘security reason’.

Incumbent and reelectionist mayor Ernida Reynoso, and 3 of her rivals – vice mayor Nick Abesamis, former mayor Dondi Silang and businessman Abner Malabanan - showed up at the event, billed as ‘Tunggalian 2019’ on May 1, Labor Day, supposedly the schedule for the debate but hours before the actual event, the organizer Gising Tayabas and the city local Commission on Elections decided to cancel the event for security reason.

In its official statement released on the following day, May 2, Gising Tayabas asked for public apology for their lapses that led to the cancellation of the much-awaited event.

“Nabanggit po sa amin na kailangan palang humingi ng permit mula sa opisina ng lokal na Pamahalaan na nakakasakop dito na hindi namin inaasahan. At dahil dito ay kumonsulta po kami sa Comelec at sa aming pag-uusap ay naantala po ang aming pag-aabyad ng permit nang ihain sa amin ang seguridad ng nasabing lugar,” said their statement.

It further said that they have discussed security matters with the city police but due to security considerations and welfare of the public during the debate, owing to unexpected changes on the day of the debate itself, they decided to cancel the event.

“Sa usaping seguridad, maayos po ang aming koordinasyon sa PNP sa ilang araw naming pagpupulong ngunit sa araw ng pagdaraos ng Debate ay nagkaroon ng hindi inaasahang pagbabago. Dahil isinasaalang-alang po namin ang seguridad at kapakanan ng mga taong dadalo at makikinig sa debate, minabuti po ng aming grupo na at ng Comelec Tayabas na huwag na lamang ituloy ang debate,” the group said in their statement.

Malabanan, said in an interview that their line-up of candidates is ready to lay out their platforms of government in the debate. He stated that the city mayor’s office may have something to do with the cancellation of the candidates’debate.

Glen Eclavea, a concerned citizen, questioned Malabanan for his statement saying it tends to damage the reputation of the city government. He added that the 4 mayoralty candidates were at the event so there was no bad faith on the part of the city government.

As public statements heat up in the social media as a result of the cancelled political debate, LGU Tayabas City released its official statement on May 1 at about 7:45 P.M. saying that for the record, no permit for the conduct of debate was received by the City Government of Tayabas, contrary to news being circulated by some individuals that the same was denied by the City Mayor.

It also said that had there been such an application, the City Government would have acted with dispatch to favorably endorse it in the spirit of public information and freedom of expression.

There are speculations that Gising Tayabas is planning again to hold a mayoralty debate before the May 13 elections to enable the voters to assess the qualities and capacities of the candidates.