Robredo banks on ‘United Bicol’ to foil Marcos’ ‘Solid North’
NAGA CITY—If vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has the “Solid North” votes, his closest rival Leni Robredo is targeting a “United Bicol” to beat him.
While in Naga City, the last stop of the Liberal Party’s provincial campaign, Robredo and party standard-bearer Mar Roxas took turns wooing Bicolanos anew to join forces and beat Marcos’ perceived advantage.
“Marami ang nangangamba, ‘paano ‘yan kasi may Solid North?’ Alam po ninyo ang Ilocos Region, parang 2.3 million ang boto. Alam niyo kung ilan ang boto ng Bicol Region? 3.4 million votes,” Robredo explained as she addressed thousands of supporters wearing yellow, the party color, at Plaza Quezon in this city on Thursday evening.
(Many are worried, what about the Solid North vote? You know, the Ilocos Region has around 2.3 million votes. Do you know how many votes the Bicol Region has? 3.4 million.)
READ: The North must remember
“Anong ibig sabihin niyo? Ibig sabihin, kung magkakaisa ang Bicol, kayang kaya nating talunin ang Solid North,” Robredo continued.
(So what does that mean? If the entire Bicol Region unites, we can easily beat the Solid North.)
Robredo and Marcos are wrestling for the top spot in the latest Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys with only a one-point difference separating them.
When it was Roxas’ turn to speak before some 15,000 supporters, he asked them to convince their friends, relatives, officemates and neighbors to vote for Robredo.
“Ang kanyang pinakamalapit na katunggali ay taga Ilocos. Siya lang namamayagpag. Wala siyang kahati doon. Kaya maari sana, solid dito si Leni,” he said.
(Her closest rival is from Ilocos. He has sole possession of the votes there. So I hope you become solid here for Leni.)
Robredo’s plea for Bicolanos to unite may affect the candidacy of other vice presidential candidates who also hail from the Bicol region.
But she said if Bicolanos would unite and rally behind one provincemate, the number will be more than enough to elect a vice president from the region on May 9.
Other VP candidates who trace their roots in Bicol are Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Antonio Trillanes and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan. But the latest surveys show the others lagging behind Robredo. Escudero is at third place with 18 percent while Trillanes and Honasan garnered 3 and 2 percent, respectively.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, a former LP ally, turned his back on the ruling party and declared his support for Escudero and his running mate Senator Grace Poe.
Mar never left Jesse
Robredo, who appeared more comfortable speaking in Bikol, also stumped for Roxas in Naga–that if the Bicolanos can help her become number one, they can do it too for Roxas.
“Mas mabuti kung si Leni Robredo, Mar Roxas ang presidente. Alam po ninyo, na kung hindi si Mar Roxas ang nag-alok sakin, hindi naman ako papayag na tumakbo,” she said.
(It would be better for me if Mar would win the presidency. You know, I would not have given in if it were not Mar who convinced me to run.)
She then recalled the good relationship between Roxas and her husband, former Naga City mayor and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, when the latter was still alive. Jesse died in a plane crash off the Masbate coast in 2012.
“Noong nag-crash ang eroplano ng asawa ko, sino ang nandun sa Masbate na hindi s’ya iniwan, Mar Roxas,” she said.
(When the plane of my husband crashed, Mar Roxas was in Masbate and never left him.)
As a culmination of their 90-day campaign, the two went back to their home provinces on Panay Island and in Camarines Sur.
On Tuesday, Roxas and Robredo were welcomed by at least 35,000 supporters, the biggest crowd yet in their campaign, in Iloilo City. The province is considered the bailiwick of Roxas, a Capiz native, and LP reelectionist Senator Franklin Drilon.
On Thursday, the administration tandem campaigned in other provinces in Bicolandia, including Virac in Catanduanes, Irosin in Sorsogon, Ligao in Albay and Calabanga in Camarines Sur.
President Benigno Aquino III joined the tandem and the senatorial candidates from the administration coalition in grand rallies in Iloilo City and Naga City. IDL/rga
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