THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Misamis Oriental declared persona non grata against its own secretary earlier today during its first session after the elections in what is widely seen as continuing escalation of partisanship within the provincial board.
During their weekly session this morning attended by seven of the 12-member SP, the board declared persona non grata against its own secretary Ernesto Sotto Jr.
The resolution was passed unanimously by all six members present during the session after SP member Virgelia Dumadag stood on the floor and read a prepared speech accusing Sotto of politicking during the last election and discrediting the results of the congressional voting in the first legislative district of the province. Government employees are barred from being partisan.
Part of the resolution stated that Sotto “has been actively engaging himself in electoral matters and posting daily prayers, messages and comments in the social media which are all directed to the province electorates to further the election victory of his candidate in the vice gubernatorial and first district congressman race.”
It also stated that Sotto “posted damaging statements and malicious lies directly addressed to the people of Misamis Oriental (sic) when the results become apparent that his congressional candidate is on the losing end.”
Sotto was hired by the provincial board in 2013 when the now outgoing Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez was still part of the majority bloc.
But when Pelaez sided with opposition second district Rep. Juliette Uy since October and the three-member Unabia bloc allied with the administration PaDayon Pilipino, the vice governor suddenly found himself in the minority and was stripped of all committee chairmanships.
In succeeding sessions, Pelaez would find himself locked in a heated debate with PaDayon Pilipino allied-SP members President Elipe and Gerardo Sabal III.
Sotto being declared as persona non grata is seen as a continuing escalation of partisan politics at the provincial board – a circumstance that is expected to stay once incoming Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar Pelaez takes over on June 30.
The new set of SP members will also come from PaDayon Pilipino-(PDP-Laban) while vice governor-elect Pelaez is allied with Uy’s National Unity Party.
This paper sent a message to Sotto for his side on the issue but he has not yet returned it as of presstime.
The SP members who voted for Sotto to be declared persona non grata were Vincent Pelaez, Mercy Grace Acain, Wayne Militante, Leonard Winstanley, Kenneth Soldevilla, Dumadag and Sabal. Five of them belong to the PaDayon Pilipino-Unabia bloc while Soldevilla and Winstanley are non-partisan ex-officios.
The Unabia bloc is composed of politicians in the first district who comprise the PDP-Laban provincial chapter under Rep. Peter Unabia.