Robredo savors ‘Ceboom’; Marcos, a Laguna boost
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Despite lack of resources and limited support from local officials, Cebuanos showed up in great numbers at the 5.2-hectare lot that served as the site of Vice President Leni Robredo’s grand rally on Thursday night.
The presidential candidate, No. 2 in the preelection surveys, was moved to express amazement at the sight of people who packed even the farthest ends of the Mandaue reclamation area. “Ngayong gabi, namamangha ako dahil kahit doon sa pinakadulo, may tao,” she said.
Robredo said she had received reports about how her supporters were finding it hard to get on vehicles that would take them to the venue of “Ceboom: Cebu Grand People’s Rally 2.0.” Their attendance showed that ordinary people could overcome any difficulty once they had made a decision, she said.
At least 18 buses that were to ferry Robredo’s supporters to the rally site were not granted special permits by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Central Visayas.
LTFRB Regional Director Eduardo Montealto told reporters that the buses were under a service contract with the government to provide free rides for its “Libreng Sakay Program” and “cannot be pulled out from the routes.”
“Only those PUVs (public utility vehicles) not included in the service contracting program of the government can ask for special permits, should they volunteer to ferry supporters to campaign rallies,” Montealto said.
On top of the transport problem, the internet signal kept dropping during the rally, making livestreaming difficult.
In addition, Robredo does not enjoy the widespread support of officials in the province of Cebu. Vice Gov. Hilario Davide III is backing her but, among the mayors of Cebu’s 44 towns and six component cities, only Mayors Gungun Gica of Dumanjug and Julieto Flores of Barili have ranged themselves behind her.
Most of the mayors, especially those who are members of the One Cebu party of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, are supporting the survey front-runner, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM), and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
On Thursday in Biñan City, Laguna, Marcos Jr. finally secured the elusive endorsement of Gov. Ramil Hernandez.
“As the president of PDP (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino)-Laguna, my president and vice president are BBM-Sara,” the governor told the crowd at the UniTeam tandem’s campaign rally at the Biñan football field.
Rally organizers said about 50,000 people attended the event.
Changing police figures
At Robredo’s ”Ceboom,” the 5.2-ha lot was fully occupied, with people spilling into the streets and watching the program on wide screens provided by the organizers.
For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nearby 668-room Bai Hotel was fully occupied on Thursday, with most of the guests attending the rally and spending the night in the hotel.
Lt. Col. Franco Rodulf Oriol, spokesperson for the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO), placed the number of people at the rally at 50,000. Police revised the number to at least 150,000 before the rally ended at 10 p.m.
But on Friday, the MCPO issued a statement that 120,000 people were at the rally.
According to Ricky Ballesteros, one of the organizers, the crowd reached over 200,000. “Let the science explain,” he said. “The area is 52,629 square meters, times 5 people. The venue was full. We can’t deny that.”
During Marcos Jr.’s campaign rally on Monday on a 3-ha lot at the South Road Property in Cebu City, police pegged the crowd at 300,000.
Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, deputy director for operations of the Cebu City police, later admitted that the site could accommodate only 120,000, but that he included in the number those who were present at various times during the eight-hour event and had gone home before the main program.
In her speech, Robredo said Cebuanos had shown that real power came from ordinary people.
Speaking in Filipino, she conceded that occasionally there would be doubts and questions.
“How do we fight when most of the politicians seem to have banded together? How can we, when we don’t have funds, we don’t have the machinery? But tonight, we have shown that money and machinery do not stand a chance against a united people,” she said.
Power of the people
She urged those present to show in the elections that power lay in the hands of ordinary people by electing them into office.
When the audience started chanting “Walang One Cebu (There is no One Cebu),” Robredo responded in Filipino: “Maybe there is no one Cebu of the politicians, but there is one Cebu of the ordinary Cebuanos. Tonight, we have shown that the power is in our hands.”
When Robredo and Marcos Jr., among others, sought the vice presidency in 2016, the province of Cebu gave her 817,052 votes and him 310,054 votes.
At that time, Robredo was an administration candidate.
In March, Laguna Governor Hernandez endorsed Mayor Duterte for the vice presidency, but not her running mate Marcos Jr.
The son and namesake of the late dictator has visited Laguna four times already. It has 2.04 million registered voters and is the fourth most vote-rich province in the country.
Marcos Jr. got the highest votes in the province in the 2016 vice presidential race, winning more than 50,000 votes over Robredo.
In an ambush interview with reporters, Melvin Matibag, acting Cabinet secretary and secretary general of the administration’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said the party was eyeing joint rallies with the UniTeam of Marcos Jr. and Mayor Duterte.
“UniTeam and PDP-Laban had a good conversation. We really have a good plan,” Matibag said, adding that they were preparing to hold joint rallies in the province of Bulacan, in Parañaque City, and again in Laguna.
Matibag said they were hoping President Duterte could also join them in the joint rallies. —With reports from Ador Vincent Mayol and Nestle Semilla
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