Leni to voters: Don’t be afraid of the strong
CEBU CITY — “Let us not be afraid of the strong because the power is in the hands of every Filipino. If we all do something, nothing is impossible,” Vice President Leni Robredo said on Thursday as she rallied Cebuanos to support the opposition slate in the May polls.
Campaigning was difficult without resources needed to mobilize people, she acknowledged in an interview at Sacred Heart Center here.
“But all these obstacles have been compensated by the passion of our volunteers who unwaveringly campaign for our candidates,” Robredo said.
The Otso Diretso candidates running for the Senate were chosen not for their popularity but for their character, Robredo said.
“It’s true that our candidates are not popular but I assure you, if you get to know them, you will surely help them win,” she said of the Liberal Party senatorial slate that included former Sen. Mar Roxas.
Citing her own “surprise” win in the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo said anything was possible if Filipinos come together to choose good leaders for the country.
“I think the presidency and vice presidency are destinies,” she added. “I, for example, had no plans seeking a national post but at the last minute, I did so and won. There were also those who prepared for a long time but were not successful.”
In Manila, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said at least 173 politicians running for local posts were under close watch for paying communist rebels permit-to-campaign fees.
Enemies of state
At a press conference in Camp Crame, Año said intelligence reports on the 2016 and 2018 elections indicated that 349 local officials provided funds to the rebels by giving in to extortion.
He said 176 of them were barangay chairs and councilors. There were also 11 governors, five vice governors, 10 provincial board members, 55 city and town mayors, 21 vice mayors, and 41 town and city councilors.
Most of these local officials are from the Bicol region, he said.
“We now have a watchlist. So if you are supporting communist rebels, you ascertain yourself as a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the state,” he added.
Data from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, show that the insurgents generated P195.5 million from extortion in the 2016 and 2018 polls, collecting P100,000 to P650,000 from each candidate. —WITH A REPORT BY JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
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