CEBU CITY–The incessant rain could not keep leaders and supporters of the Liberal Party (LP) from attending the rally being held at the Tabunok Sports Complex in Talisay City on Tuesday.
The jampacked sports complex started to be filled up at past 5 p.m. But at past 6 p.m., the supporters could no longer be accommodated inside the venue and many of them stayed outside the 5,000-capacity sports complex, some with umbrellas while others braved the rain.
Around 20 policemen, reportedly belonging to the Regional Public Safety Battalion of Police Regional Office and wearing white polo shirts, were seen holding yellow umbrellas to meet VIPs. Authorities reportedly deployed around 200 policemen from PRO 7 and the Cebu provincial office at the rally venue.
The Team PNoy rally started at 6:30 p.m. with LP campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon, senatorial candidates Grace Poe, Bam Aquino, Jamby Madrigal and Ramon Magsaysay Jr. in attendance.
Because a power interruption affected Talisay City since Tuesday afternoon, a power generator was used to light up Tabunok Sports Complex.
The rally was supposed to be held at a more than 1-hectare lot located in Lawaan, Talisay, across the Talisay City Hall but it was transferred to the Tabunok Sports Complex due to rains brought about by tropical depression ‘‘Crising’’.
Talisay Mayor Socrates Fernandez of the local party, Alayon, which is affiliated to the Nacionalista Party, helped in the rally preparations, such as installing the lights at the rally venue and deploying traffic personnel and policemen to secure the venue.
The mayor explained that while he did not belong to LP, his cooperation with the President was an expression of gratitude for all the administration projects and programs that reached his city.
The rally stage was bare except for a tarpaulin welcoming President Aquino while yellow balloons and tarpaulins of candidates hanged on the sides of the complex.
Aside from the people inside the complex, many also lined up on the roads outside while waiting for the arrival of the President.
President Aquino arrived at the sports complex at around 6:50 p.m..
Former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. and his son, gubernatorial candidate Hilario Davide III, acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale, 5th district Rep. Red Durano, 6th district Rep. Luigi Quisumbing, Cebu City south district Rep. Tomas Osmeña and wife, Councilor Margot Osmeña, were lined up at the entrance to welcome the President.
The President was accompanied by PMS head Rene Almendras. People cheered, shouted “Noynoy” and made the Laban sign when the President entered the sports complex and went up the stage with the younger Davide.
Senatorial candidate Jamby Madrigal, Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, who represented his mother, senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar, and Leandro Legarda Leviste, who represented his mother Sen. Loren Legarda, had delivered their messages when the President arrived.
The other senatorial candidates present at the rally were former Risa Hontiveros, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Sen. Koko Pimentel.
Senatorial candidate Rep. Sonny Angara was also represented by his wife Tootsy while Sen. Antonio Trillanes was represented by Ashley Acedillo of Magdalo.
In her message, Madrigal asked Cebu voters to give Team PNoy, which she said consists of honest and hard working people, a 12-0 vote in the election.
In his message, Bam Aquino said that electing the Team PNoy candidates would complement with the reform programs of the Aquino administration.
For her part, Poe tearfully recalled the defeat of her father, Fernando Poe Jr., who she said had been cheated in Cebu.
She said it took a while before she decided to be on the Cebuano stage for her candidacy. “FPJ lost here heavily,” Poe said.
But she stressed that they did not blame Cebuanos, whom they still love, as the cheating was done by some people. “I promise that if I win, I will help (Cebu) in memory of my father even if he was cheated here,” Poe said, adding that she will focus on standard lunch for elementary school children, support the farmers and help the graduates find good jobs.
Hontiveros, for her part, assured voters she would lead pro-women legislation if elected.
In the absence of Manila-based entertainers, the flow of the rally, which was hosted by singer Leah Navarro, was fast paced. –With a report from Carmel Matus.