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In Agusan del Sur town, a captive audience for LP

/ 12:27 AM April 09, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—It could be called a captive audience.

Hundreds of beneficiaries of the government’s cash subsidy program for the poorest of the poor, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, composed the bulk of the crowd that attended a rally on April 5 in this town for administration candidates Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo.

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The 4Ps beneficiaries came from remote villages in the towns of Loreto, Veruela, Sta. Josefa, Trento, Bunawan, Rosario and this town. They arrived at the rally venue around 1 p.m. when temperatures soared past 35 degrees Celsius.

The crowd waited for at least seven hours before Roxas, standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), and Robredo, his running mate, arrived around 8 p.m. The candidates had come from a sortie in Tandag, Surigao del Sur.

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Among the 4Ps beneficiaries present at the rally was Jocelyn Baslote, who came from the village of Tagapua here.

Roxas had acknowledged Baslote’s presence and urged her to come up the stage.

Roxas said poor people, like Baslote, would get more benefits under an expanded 4Ps program that Roxas promised to implement if elected President next month.

“Jocelyn’s story is not different from you,” Roxas said in his speech before the 4Ps beneficiaries. Many Filipinos, he said, remain poor because of lack of opportunities.

What is sad, Roxas said, is that Jocelyn and her husband, Rudy, are not jobless. They are into farming.

Like many farmers in the country, Roxas said Jocelyn and Rudy are poor because they are forced to sell their produce at a loss.

During the rally here, Roxas also promised to expand the coverage of the government-subsidized health-care program through PhilHealth to give coverage to senior citizens and make it easier for them to acquire so-called maintenance medicines.

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“Medicines for (high) cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes are costly that I would like to make them free for senior citizens under the PhilHealth program,” Roxas said.

Aside from 4Ps beneficiaries, village health workers and officials and local candidates were also at the rally, which Roxas supporters here described as the biggest campaign sortie they have seen in Mindanao.

But the dominant color during the rally was not the signature yellow of LP but green, the color associated with the National Unity Party, the political party of incumbent Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza, who is running for reelection. Chris Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: 4Ps, Agusan del Sur, Elections 2016, Leni Robredo, Liberal Party, LP, Mar Roxas, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
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