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    Posted April 14, 2013 by

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    In Mati City: It's politics of rice



    By Ben O. Tesiorna


    The mayoral and vice mayoral race in the City of Mati are being contested by four members of the Rabat clan.


    Incumbent Mayor Michelle Nakpil Rabat is seeking re-election while her younger brother, incumbent Board Member Eric Rabat, is eyeing the vice mayoralty post. The brother and sister tandem is running under the Liberal Party.


    Running under the United Nationalist Alliance is incumbent Vice Mayor Carlo Rabat who is seeking the mayoralty post with cousin and incumbent City Councilor Glenda Rabat as his  vice.


    Many opined that no matter who gets elected, two Rabats would surely get the two highest positions in the city. True, but what many Matiños are unaware of is that Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon is the driving force behind the candidacy of Carlo and Glenda.


    This was confirmed when the governor personally went up the stage and endorsed Carlo and Glenda Rabat's candidacy during a rally recently. Malanyaon is a member of the Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manny Villar who is allied with the Liberal Party.


    Six years ago, Michelle Rabat, Cora Malanyaon and Thelma Almario joined forces to unseat then Governor Ma. Elena Palma Gil. But the harmonious relationship between the "Tres Marias" turned sour few years back.


    Differences in policies and politics is said to be the reason the three powers that be in Davao Oriental drifted apart.


    People close to Mayor Rabat said the sweet relationship between the mayor and the governor started turning sour at a time the cityhood of Mati is being questioned before the Supreme Court.


    Gov. Malanyaon allegedly demanded share from the city's real property tax at a time when Mati City was having a hard time managing its finances due to the reduction of its Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government.


    This despite the fact that when Mati was still enjoying its IRA as a city, the City Government was in full support of the Provincial Government. Mati receives roughly about P500 million as their IRA share while the entire province of Davao Oriental has only abut P700M IRA.


    This and many other differences on issues like mining and logging have wedge the conflict between Mayor Rabat and Governor Malanyaon further.


    The separation was officially declared onApril 2 when the governor attended the "Team Mati" proclamation of Carlo and Glenda Rabat.


    Politics of rice?


    The camp of Governor Malanyaon is now being questioned by Mayor Rabat for allegedly distributing tons and tons of rice to Mati City in wooing support for Team Mati.


    Some supporters of Mayor Rabat said that hundreds, if not thousands of sacks of rice were distributed in Mati City by Malanyaon to support the candidacy of the challenger Rabats (Carlo and Glenda).


    They suspect that the sacks of rice were the same rice intended for the survivors of the Typhoon Pablo in the three towns of Davao Oriental that were ravaged by the calamity.


    For this, Mayor Rabat wrote a letter to Secretary Dinky Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development informing the agency of the rumor and asking for an investigation on the matter.


    "We a urging that for the purposes of transparency, the people of Davao Oriental are apprised of the extent of help coming from the DSWd, from the World Food Fund, and from other sources. We are urging the DSWD to investigate further so that in the end there is no abuse of the resources reserved for Typhoon Pablo victims in Davao Oriental," Rabat stated in her letter to Sec. Soliman


    Aside from the letter to the DSWD, they are also questioning before the Ombudsman the role of a plantilla employee in the provincial capitol on the distribution of rice in Mati City by the province.


    It was learned that the employee has a business where the provincial government is buying their rice and these are being repacked and stored in a warehouse owned by a mining company that is reportedly supporting Malanyaon and Team Mati.


    This same company operates in the nearby town of Tarragona where a gold rush site is located. Last year, several people were reportedly killed in a landslide there but the company and the provincial government vehemently denied the loss of lives.


    Mati is not for sale...


    Thousands of Matiños meanwhile showed their overwhelming support to reelectionist Mayor Michelle Rabat during their proclamation rally on April 13 at the Francisco G. Rabat Baywalk and Park.


    An estimated 5,000 people attended the rally with Mayor Rabat declaring to the public that "Mati is not for sale".


    Mayor Rabat's camp fears that if Gov. Malanyaon's camp wins in Mati they would "sell" Mati to mining companies who have long wanted to operate in Mati City.


    In her speech, Mayor Rabat said that her administration had worked hard for the cityhood of Mati for years and she could not allow Malanyaon and her minions to sell Mati tothe highest bidder. BOT


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