March for Marisa
Trelawny Southern Labourites await former MP's response to protest
Jamaica Labour Party supporters stage a protest in Albert Town, Trelawny on Monday imploring Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert to reconsider stepping away from representational politics. (Photos: Horace Hines)

ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny — After a few hours spent, in light rain, appealing to Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert to reconsider quitting as their Member of Parliament, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters are now eagerly awaiting her decision.

Interspersed among residents gathered in Albert Town on Monday, singing the praises of the woman who has represented the constituency since 2007, were minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister (West), Homer Davis; mayor of Falmouth, Councillor C Junior Gager; as well as senior advisor and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism Delano Seiveright.

There was also a show of support by other JLP councillors and councillor/caretakers from the constituency, as well as from neighbouring Trelawny Northern. But it was the grass roots supporters who were most vocal at times. One woman, identified as Shower Muma, fell to her knees in an impassioned plea to JLP leader and Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

"I am asking Andrew Holness, please don't receive the resignation," she implored.

Councillor Desmond Smith (right), (Jamaica Labour Party, Lorimers Division) speaking with journalists on Monday in Albert Town, Trelawny during a demonstration by Jamaica Labour Party supporters calling on Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert to reconsider her resignation as Member of Parliament for Trelawny Southern. Also pictured is Councillor C Junior Gager (Jamaica Labour Party, Warsop Division).

Another supporter, Marsha Gibson, had very personal reasons for wanting Dalrymple-Philibert to remain.

"I am here to give support to my MP, a hard-working MP, a MP who would take prescription from the [constituency] office and take it to Runaway Bay and fill it and find your house with the medication. If she hear you are in the hospital, she visits the hospital; if she hear that you have somebody dead she will come and give her support. She has sent so much people to school. She is always here; she has never changed her phone number since she has been in Trelawny. Anybody can call that MP — it speaks volumes," Gibson told the Jamaica Observer.

One man who gave his name as Hombre Dawkins simply asked Dalrymple-Philibert to serve out the term.

"She is one of the best Members of Parliament out of the 63. She has done so much for South Trelawny. The Integrity Commission [IC] never say she stole any money; all the IC say is she did not add it [motor vehicle] to her asset declaration. We stand here today in support of her and we want her to remain as Member of Parliament, at least until the next general election which is due in 2025," he urged.

Dalrymple-Philibert stepped aside as Speaker of the House and MP last week after a ruling by the IC's director of corruption prosecution, Keisha Prince-Kameka, that she be charged with four counts of making a false statement in breach of the Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act, 1973 in her statutory declaration for the periods ending December 31, 2015, February 25, 2016, December 31, 2016, and December 31, 2017; and four counts of breaching the Integrity Commission Act, 2017 for making a false statement for the periods ending December 31, 2018, December 31, 2019, September 3, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

The ruling was included in an IC investigation report which also saw the commission's director of investigation, Kevon Stephenson, recommending that the report be referred to the prime minister "for him to take such disciplinary and/or administrative actions which both recognises the seriousness of Mrs Dalrymple-Philibert's conduct" and to deter recurrence.

Additionally, Stephenson said he found that Dalrymple-Philibert had breached Section 36 of the Customs Act and recommended that his report be referred to the commissioner of customs to recover the duties paid on the vehicle and to apply "such penalties as the commissioner may deem to be appropriate".

Stephenson also recommended that the report be referred to the financial secretary in order to recover allowances paid to the House Speaker in relation to the vehicle.

However, shortly after the report was tabled, Dalrymple-Philibert issued a statement explaining that she had forgotten to include the motor vehicle, which was primarily used by her sister, in her declarations.

She said she was surprised at the conclusion reached by the commission, given that she has "always filed [her] statutory declarations and have done so in a timely and transparent manner".

In a statement announcing her resignation "with immediate effect" Dalrymple-Philibert reiterated that she had nothing to hide and "did not knowingly mislead the Integrity Commission, it was a genuine oversight".

On Monday, from about 10:00 am, scores of JLP supporters, mostly clad in the party's colour, green, streamed into the business hub of Albert Town holding aloft placards plastered with messages urging the woman they call Mama D to reconsider her decision to step away.

Some of the placards had messages such as 'We a cry, we a bawl; come back'; 'Mama, we need you'; 'The backbone of South Trelawny'; 'We need Mama D, we need you back'; 'Mad we a mad out'.

Cheers from the chanting, horn-tooting Labourites increased as each convoy of vehicles, including Toyota Coaster buses loaded with party supporters, wormed their way into Albert Town Square.

By noon the square was jam-packed. As the day progressed there was a party-like atmosphere at the community centre as those gathered gyrated to the sound of reggae booming from speaker boxes set up in the square.

BY HORACE HINES Observer writer

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