Marcos assures post-Lakas Sara Duterte: ‘I’m still your No. 1 fan’
There was no sign of any impending storm here — the political kind, that is.
Or was it just the proverbial calm?
Giving each other a hug, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte appeared together in public for the first time since she quit the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), the party that served as the vehicle for their tandem’s resounding election victory last year.
The country’s two highest officials were both special guests at Saturday’s inauguration of Pier 88, a new port in Liloan town, Cebu province. Also with them was Speaker Martin Romualdez, head of the ruling party at the House of Representatives from which Duterte resigned on May 19.
Romualdez, a cousin of Marcos, was seen briefly waving at Duterte in acknowledgment during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. They later shared the stage with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, and her husband, Rep. Vincent Franco “Duke” Frasco of Cebu’s fifth district.
After being introduced by Duterte as the main speaker, the president started his speech by thanking “the good vice president for her very kind introduction.”
“It’s like I’m back in the campaign, with Inday Sara and I laughing. And the reason I made her laugh is that I told her, dito sa mga gulong nangyayari (with the mess that is going on), I have just officially designated myself as your self-appointed official BFF (best friend forever),” Marcos told Duterte, who smiled as the president spoke.
“So I’m sorry, whether you like it or not, I am still your No. 1 fan,” he added, drawing laughter and applause from the audience.
After the program ended, Marcos was seen talking with Duterte and Romualdez, as though in a huddle.
Saying the performance of her duties could not “be poisoned by political toxicity” or “undermined by political power play,” Duterte left Lakas-CMD two days after her key House ally, Pampanga Rep. and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was demoted as one of the chamber’s top leaders.
Stripped of her “senior” ranking among the deputy speakers, Arroyo later denied rumors that she was plotting a coup to unseat Romualdez and that she was eyeing a second term as Speaker.
P1-billion PPP project
The Marcos-Duterte-Romualdez encounter generated its own buzz during an event in which the President, fittingly, underscored the need for “connectivity.”
In his speech, Marcos said Pier 88 would offer a faster transport alternative for passengers and cargo movers in Cebu and other Visayas provinces.
“It’s encouraging to see that a massive undertaking such as this, where the local government takes the lead and collaborates with the private sector and other local governments, in the pursuit of objectives consonant with the national development agenda,” he said, adding:
“With the many benefits to the public interest, these projects showcase kindred examples of good urban planning. Let us imagine if these kinds of projects are replicated across the country, laterally and locally coordinated, and harmonized both on the provincial and national levels. Then we could say that we are genuinely closer to our ambition of a prosperous, inclusive, and resilient society.”
Costing more than P1 billion to build, Pier 88 is a PPP or public-private sector partnership between the municipality of Liloan and the companies Pier 88 Ventures Inc., Topline Group of Companies, Viking Land, and FL Port Management Corp.
Touted as a smart port, it will integrate mobile applications and digital technology — QR codes and radio frequency identification — into its operations to provide seamless services to passengers.
Located in Barangay Poblacion, Pier 88 is expected to serve travelers going in and out of the Cebu mainland via Liloan town and those going to Metro Cebu, the Camotes group of islands, and Bohol and Leyte provinces.
Covering about three hectares, it is expected to help decongest traffic in Metro Cebu, particularly in Consolacion and Mandaue City, by providing an alternative mode of transport from Liloan to Mactan and Cebu City and vice versa.
A number of brand-new vessels with state-of-the-art engines are expected to use the port, each accommodating up to 150 passengers.
According to Marcos, the newly inaugurated port is part of a bigger, synchronized system in the works.
“Today we put in place a very important piece of that puzzle. That puzzle we are trying to put together [for] our connectivity, not only amongst the islands of the Philippines but amongst our international friends, visitors, and tourists,” he said.
Saturday’s event also coincided with the 178th founding anniversary of Liloan and the relaunch, after the pandemic pause, of the town’s Rosquillos Festival which celebrates a local delicacy.