BY ROGER M. BALANZA
After two decades of failed attempts to grab the political leadership in Davao City, former House Speaker and Davao City First District Representative Prospero Nograles has raised the white flag to vow support to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Nograles lost three times in his bid to grab City Hall: In 1992 against Duterte, in 1998 against protégé Benjamin de Guzman and to Duterte daugther Inday Sara in 2010.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Prospero Nograles apologized to his longtime political nemesis President Rodrigo Duterte for past differences.
In front of more than 1,000 political leaders and supporters of Nograles during the birthday celebration of Davao City 1st District Rep. Karlo Nograles at Mergrande Resort in Davao City on Saturday night, the former House speaker even vowed to back the President and to be loyal to the Duterte family.
He said Duterte is from Davao and the only president coming from Mindanao.
“I apologize publicly for whatever heartaches we have had,” the elder Nograles said in his short message as he welcomed and thanked the President for gracing his son’s birthday celebration.
The elder Nograles even vowed that the Nograleses “will defend him (Duterte) go against his enemies,” the elder Nograles said.
But the President, in an interview, said there is no need for Nograles to apologize.
(The author and Durian Post publisher first covered Duterte in 1986 during his stint as interim vice mayor. He supported Duterte’s first mayoral battle, against OIC mayor Zafiro Respicio. His political alliance with Duterte continued, serving as chief media strategist in the 1992 mayoral contest vs. Nograles. He was also the media bureau head of the Duterte camp in the 1998 race between Duterte bet Benjamin de Guzman and Nograles.
The author had a parting with Duterte in the 2001 mayoral tiff between de Guzman, who appointed him as City Press Secretary, and the come-backing Duterte.
Following de Guzman’s loss, he went back to media practice and helped found the Mindanao Insider Daily.
In 2010, he was recalled to the Duterte camp to lead the media campaign in the Inday Sara versus Nograles battle.)
“Hindi naman kailangan ‘yan because actually, ano lang ‘yan, ‘yung… magkalaban kami sa pulitika but eventually sinuportahan niya ako kasi it was to the best interest of Davao (That’s not really needed because actually, that is only… we were political opponents but eventually he supported me because it was to be the best interest of Davao),” he told reporters when asked for his reaction.
Their rivalry started in 1992 during the Davao mayoral elections when both traded barbs against each other. Duterte was then running for second term as mayor and Nograles was trying his hand for the mayoral post. Nograles was defeated by Duterte.
When Duterte run in the First District congressional race (his three-term mayoral limit having been eaten up) in 1998, Nograles launched a second attempt to grab City but was defeated by de Guzman, Duterte’s political ally.
Nograles would fail in his third attempt against Inday Sara in the 2010 polls. The hot political divide would simmer down following the 2010 encounter after Nograles announced he was retiring from politics.
When Duterte ran for president last year, Rep. Karlo backed the elder Duterte. Karlo is Duterte’s nephew because his mother is a cousin of the President.
The Nograles’ expression of support was sealed with the oath taking of Karlo as a member of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino in the same occasion.
He took the opportunity to take an oath before the President because he could not attend the mass oath-taking of incoming PDP members on September 8 in Davao due to the scheduled budget hearings.
Karlo, who was a member of the Lakas-CMD, is the current chairman of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations.
He decided to join PDP in support of Duterte and to give in to the invitations of other party members.
Karlo said it is important for the people of Davao and of Mindanao to unite.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he was glad that Rep. Karlo considered him an important part of his personal and political life. He also thanked Karlo for his help especially during this times when the country is facing challenges.
He said, “Karlo’s strong public advocacies go beyond the interests of the people of Davao City.”
The President also cited Karlo’s proactive legislative work in promoting the welfare of the youth and the workers which is making a significant impact in the entire country.
“With the work you have done for us, you have my admiration and respect. I know that you deserve all the happiness and love, especially from your supporters, friends, and family,” he added.
“I hope you stay by my side as we serve the country and work to make lasting and meaningful changes in the Philippines,” Duterte said. (with Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)