Robredo in Panay: Few local execs openly supportive, but passionate volunteers step up rallies during sorties | Inquirer News

Robredo in Panay: Few local execs openly supportive, but passionate volunteers step up rallies during sorties

/ 06:24 PM February 21, 2022

ILOILO CITY—Unlike in 2016 when Panay and Guimaras Islands were bailiwicks of the Liberal Party, few local officials joined and openly showed support for Vice President Leni Robredo during her two-day sortie in Panay last week.

Of the five governors of Panay and Guimaras Islands, only Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. has endorsed Robredo. Aside from Mayors Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City and Ronnie Dadivas of Roxas City, only a few mayors, vice mayors and municipal councilors have shown open support for Robredo.

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Only Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor and Capiz Rep. Emmanuel “Tawi” Billones have openly shown support for Robredo of the 12 legislators in Panay and Guimaras.

But thousands came out to meet her and running mate Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan along the streets and in rallies organized by mainly volunteers and grassroots organizations in the provinces of Capiz, Aklan, and Antique.

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The loose but intensely passionate and committed network of volunteers from various sectors have stepped up mobilizing support and their resources for Robredo.

The outpouring of support prompted Robredo to declare that she and Pangilinan have never seen such a response from volunteers in the past election campaigns they joined.

“The energy is different now…Why are you so passionate and so energized in this election? You know that this election is not just a contest of candidates but to decide what kind of government we want for our country,” she told about 4,000 cheering supporters on Feb. 15 at the Dinggoy Roxas Civic Center in Roxas City in Capiz.

Dadivas, members of the city council, and Billones were at the rally.

Dadivas and Billones are staunch Liberal Party stalwarts and allies of former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.

Capiz Gov. Esteban Evan Contreras, who is running for re-election under the Cusi wing of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), was not present.

He has not openly endorsed candidates for the national elections but welcomed Marcos and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio during their visit to the province in December last year.

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In the capital town of Kalibo, Robredo met with Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores, who is also with the PDP-Laban. Miraflores, who has not openly endorsed a presidential candidate, was also not present at the rally that was joined by about 5,000 Aklanons at the Aklan Catholic College campus.

Robredo also drew a fervent response from residents of Boracay Island where she visited the Ati Village and held a rally on Feb. 16 joined by about 1,000 supporters at the Blue Lotus Function Hall in Sitio Bulabog in Barangay Balabag.

Except for Malay municipal councilor Nenette Aguirre-Graf, who is openly supporting Robredo, no municipal officials were present.

But residents from all walks of life, including business owners, students, vendors, religious leaders, came to the rally.

Robredo immediately touched base with the residents by reiterating her stand against the widely-opposed Boracay Island Development Authority bill that seeks to create a corporate body to manage the island.

She also assured the Ati community, considered the earliest inhabitants of Boracay Island, that they would not be evicted and have full support from the national government.

“You, not us, know the issues here, and you should be heard,” Robredo told her supporters at the open-air hall and those that spilled over the garden of the 6,000-square-meter lot near the beachfront.

She called on her supporters to help ensure that the island is taken care of even after the 2022 elections.

The development of the island due to its tourism industry should also uplift everyone and not business owners, Robredo reminded Boracaynons.

“We can clearly see that she knows the issues here and what she is talking about,” Dian Tobes, a convener of the Boracay Para Kay Leni, told the INQUIRER in a telephone interview.

Robredo and Pangilinan capped their visit to the island with a rally at the Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park in the capital town of San Jose in Antique.

The park was named after slain former governor Evelio Javier, who was gunned down on Feb. 11, 1986, during the canvassing of votes of the 1986 snap presidential elections between Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

He campaigned for Aquino, and his death was among those that hastened the collapse of the dictatorship leading to the Edsa People Power I revolt.

The rally was among the biggest seen in recent years in San Jose, with crowd estimates from a low of 3,000 to a high of 6,000 attendees.

Antique Vice Gov. Edgar Denosta was at the rally, but none of the 18 mayors of the province was present.

Antique Rep. Loren Legarda is one of the senatorial candidates of Marcos and Duterte-Carpio.

Pandan town Vice Mayor Raymund Gumboc said he was supporting Robredo and attended her rally because he believed she embodies upright and capable leadership.

Backed by the then formidable Liberal Party, Robredo trounced Marcos in the vice presidential race in the 2016 elections in Panay and Guimaras.

But with few party members left on the island and little support from local officials, the vice president relies on an army of volunteers to come big again in the May 8 elections.

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TAGS: #2022candidates, #2022elections, #elections2022, #VotePH2022, bailiwicks, Guimaras Islands, Leni Robredo, Liberal Party, Local officials, Panay, Politics, support
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