A mayoral candidate in the Philippines lost the support of his mother, brother, girlfriend and other relatives for pushing the eviction of residents from land he has been claiming.
Magdaleno Pena's mother, Lina Pena, and brother, Bonifacio Pena, voiced their support of Samson Mondia, who is running for mayor of Pulupandan town against Pena.
Lina Pena, Bonifacio Pena, and Pena's former live-in partner, Plinky Recto, showed up at the Pulupundan police station as police brought Pena's men in for questioning. The men allegedly fired shots at the house of a town councilor who is among those Pena wanted evicted.
Another relative, Gretchen Cojuangco, wife of business tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco, joined them later. Her arrival was cheered by the crowd outside the police station. Cojuangco said she was in Pulupandan because Lina Pena, her first cousin, asked her to join them. But Pena remained unfazed by the stand taken by his family.
"My beautiful mom, girlfriend, [aunt], all [are] under the hot sun. I never thought I would merit so much attention. I am flattered," Pena said in reaction to the presence of his relatives.
Lina Pena, on the other hand, said her son was not a good person for turning against his own mother. "I am his mother, and I know what kind of person he is," she said, adding that she believes Recto's claims that she was physically abused by her son. Pena has denied Recto's claim.
Recto said she was in Pulupandan "to support Tita Lina and the people she is supporting in the town. I hope the people vote for the right mayor of Pulupandan. A lot has happened to the mother and [grandmother] of my child and to me. Is it right to choose a mayor who hurts people and gets land that is not his?"
Recto also complained of being barred from seeing her son since September. Pena, who has been in a custody battle with Recto, has custody of the boy.
But Pena said Recto could come and visit their son every day. "He has her beautiful eyes. I always show him her picture and he says 'mama,'" Pena said.
The property at the heart of the dispute is where Pulupandan's vice mayor, four councilors and six barangay (village) chairs reside. In January, Pena issued notices to vacate to about 1,200 residents on the land.