Perhaps they were not used to seeing Vice President Jejomar Binay in the flesh in this part of the country.
Understandably so, as the province is the political bailiwick of Binay’s bitter rival, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
But once Capiz folks realized the country’s second-highest official was paying them a visit, they couldn’t contain their excitement.
Traffic came to a halt, as drivers brought out cell phones to take shots of Binay. A man fell off his motorcycle as he tried to catch a T-shirt Binay had thrown in his direction. Some kids came dangerously close to the campaign truck to pick up “Binay candies.”
Binay country for 2 hours
Roxas City is still Mar Roxas country, but for two hours at least when Binay was on the road here, the crowd was his.
In Barangay (village) Barra, a man wearing a white “Binay 2016” shirt approached the convoy and shouted in Filipino: “Binay is my president!”
With six days to go before the election, Binay sought to invade Roxas’ turf and score an improbable upset for his UNA senatorial slate.
An UNA sweep might be unrealistic, admitted Vic Bermejo, the UNA candidate for Roxas City mayor who was repeatedly endorsed by Binay before local leaders at a caucus at the Kapis Mansion.
But so is the 12-0 goal of the administration’s Team PNoy, which Binay described as “laughable.”
“If you ask me, my commitment is (9-0) for UNA. But we know the reality of realities. Let me just say that we will work as much as we can for the whole group,” Bermejo told reporters.
In fighting mode
Binay, who put together the UNA coalition to firm up the political machinery for his scarcely concealed plans for a presidential run three years from now, was in fighting mode.
In a speech before local leaders, he recalled how Roxas had belittled his chances during the vice-presidential race in 2010 so that even his own wife had doubts that he could win.
But he came from behind to topple Roxas, the perennial survey front-runner, and even won in two towns in Capiz, Binay said.
While introducing his local leaders in the province, Binay paused after calling out the name of the leader from President Roxas town. “President Roxas, what a waste of a name,” he said sarcastically.
Later in the speech, he told the applauding supporters: “I consider you a member of my Cabinet.”
Angry at city mayor
Binay all but fumed when he came to the subject of Roxas City Mayor Angel Allan Celino, Bermejo’s opponent.
He referred to the mayor as “Inday” (a Visayan term of endearment for a little girl) and at one point used the word “durugista” (drug addict).
“The mayor here is a scoundrel, the Inday mayor of Capiz’s capital city,” he later told reporters in Filipino.
“There’s no gender issue here,” he said, explaining his use of Inday. He said by Inday, he was referring to a wishy-washy style of leadership.
Binay’s beef against the mayor was reportedly because of the rude treatment he was supposed to have gotten from Celino when he first visited Roxas City in June last year. Banners welcoming his arrival were pulled down, he claimed.
“I’m really angry with him,” he said in Filipino.