Warm Davao del Sur welcome surprises Leni Robredo
DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — In this city, several people, mostly public officials gathered at the capitol grounds to meet Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday.
They had been speculating whether Davao del Sur Gov. Marc Cagas would also be supporting her bid for the presidency.
The governor’s wife, Yvonne Roño, who is running for governor, handed Robredo a bouquet of pink flowers on her arrival here on Thursday to pay a courtesy visit to the governor.
Davao del Sur has always been assumed an extension of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Davao turf. But in the local race in the 2019 elections, the Cagas political clan defeated the Hugpong ng Pagbabago of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio.
The party was very closely allied with Cagas’ political rivals, the Bautistas of Davao Occidental.
The province still delivered the votes for the administration’s senatorial bets that year as then-Gov. Douglas Cagas, Marc’s father, remained supportive of President Duterte. But the slighted Cagas patriarch defeated the HnP of Duterte’s daughter in practically all political seats in the province, including the seats for governor, vice governor, and district representatives.
Marc, the elected vice governor, assumed his father’s post after his father died at the height of the COVID-19 surge in June last year.
During the vice president’s short courtesy visit on Thursday, Cagas fondly recalled memories of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, a close friend of his father.
He also compared the vice president’s initial reluctance to run for the presidency with that of his wife, Yvonne Roño, who registered as Mrs. Marc Cagas at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to run for governor of Davao del Sur in this year’s elections; and that of his cousin, lawyer Riafe Cagas-Fernandez who is running for vice governor in tandem with his wife.
“I am sure because she did not intend to run for president. She is the least interested presidential candidate of all, just like my wife and my cousin,” Governor Cagas said of Robredo.
“So, brothers and sisters, let’s give her a chance and listen carefully to the vice president, Leni Robredo,” he told supporters.
Cagas, however, did not join the gathering at the Davao del Sur Coliseum, where a mass of Robredo’s supporters welcomed her with surprising intensity.
His late father, the chairperson of PDP-Laban in Davao del Sur, had been identified with the faction of presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao.
The vice president made her courtesy visit hours before the group of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in Davao del Norte declared their support for her presidential bid.
Just like Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte was another province very close to President Duterte’s home turf where HnP suffered defeat in the 2019 elections’ local race.
Speaking at the Davao del Norte press conference, Robredo said the support she had been getting, especially in Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte, was totally unexpected.
“Humbled and grateful,” the vice president later said in Davao del Norte when asked about her reaction to the huge crowds that showed up in her rallies in Pasay, Nueva Ecija, and more recently, in the Davao provinces.
“Especially this morning, we were not expecting in Digos to get that kind of support, that there would so many supporters here,” Robredo said in Filipino in a press conference with former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin Jubahib, whose Partido Reporma had declared support for her presidential bid.
“I was surprised on entering Capitol. There were a lot of supporters. This is just a reminder to us that we are not alone in this fight,” she said.
—WITH A REPORT FROM GERMELINA LACORTE