Hugpong caravan lures thousands on Marcos, Singson turfs
LAOAG CITY — Supporters of the Marcos family made their presence felt on Monday during the campaign caravan of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) here that included nine of the coalition’s 13 senatorial candidates in May’s midterm elections.
Police said about 10,000 people went to see the candidates at the Centennial Arena in the capital of Ilocos Norte, bailiwick of senatorial aspirant Imee Marcos.
Earlier in Vigan City, former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson led about 10,000 people in welcoming the HNP candidates and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, President Duterte’s daughter and party founder.
Singson was accompanied by Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, Ilocos Sur Representatives Eric Singson and Deogracias Victor Savellano and other local officials.
Outside the packed Centennial Arena, outdoor LED (light-emitting diode) displays were installed to allow more people to watch the rally.
9 of 13 candidates
Marcos supporters also gathered at the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in nearby Batac City as they waited for the arrival of reelectionist Sen. JV Ejercito.
Only nine HNP senatorial candidates joined the Vigan and Laoag rallies.
They were Marcos, Ejercito, reelectionist Sen. Cynthia Villar, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino, former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, former journalist Jiggy Manicad and Maguindanao Rep. Dong Mangudadatu.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has admitted that it has no power to stop the candidates’ massive spending on advertisements before the start of the campaign period.
“Unfortunately, we cannot do anything about it,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said, referring to the P2.4 billion that the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said the candidates spent in premature campaigning.
“All these happened before the campaign period. The Comelec only checks [expenses] during the campaign period. This is what we have been pointing out as a loophole in the law,” Jimenez said. —Reports from Leilanie Adriano, Leoncio Balbin Jr., and Tina G. Santos
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