Aquino’s frequent Iloilo visits explained
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III visited Iloilo twice in two months but it this wasn’t a sign that the province was the Liberal Party’s weakest area, according to Governor Arthur Defensor.
Defensor, who is seeking re-election under the LP, stressed that Mr. Aquino merely wanted to show his full support of the party’s candidates in the province.
Senator Franklin Drilon, the LP vice chairman and Team PNoy campaign manager, denied that the President was visiting areas and endorsing candidates who have poor chances of winning.
“The President is also concerned with local candidates,” Drilon said, claiming that Iloilo and Western Visayas were “bailiwicks” of the administration.
Aquino was in Iloilo on February 21 for rallies in the towns of Dumangas and Pavia. He was in Iloilo again on April 10, for more rallies in Sta. Barbara town and Passi City.
In campaign rallies in Passi and Sta. Barbara, the President declared his support for Defensor and his runningmate Raul Tupas.
The President also endorsed former Iloilo governor Niel Tupas who is running for representative of Iloilo’s 4th congressional district against provincial board member Hernan Biron Jr., younger brother of Congressman Ferjenel Biron who is running against Defensor.
He made a similar pitch for local candidates of Iloilo’s second congressional district during a rally in Sta. Barbara town following the rally in Passi City.
The President called on supporters to vote for candidates of the administration, saying development projects and programs of the administration would depend on who would be elected in the May 13 elections.
Defensor said the value of a presidential endorsement should not be underestimated during the election campaign.
“It can be translated into so many things. One is, it is difficult quantifying how much support will the President extend to the province of Iloilo in the last three years,” Defensor said. “He has made it clear that he intends to support the province of Iloilo.”
But the candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in Iloilo were unfazed by the open support thrown by President Aquino behind administration candidates.
“It will really depend on the will of the majority of Ilonggos. It is not important who comes here to support the local candidates,” Representative Ferjenel Biron said.
Biron refused to comment further on the President’s endorsement of local candidates but said the administration was “mustering all its resources” to defeat him.
Biron is facing an unprecedented alliance among the Garin, Tupas and Defensor families, Iloilo’s traditional political rivals, who united under the LP earlier this year.
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