More Bicol pols join Duterte bandwagon
NAGA CITY—Despite the unraveling of allegations of his undeclared wealth, presidential front-runner and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte continues to attract big names in politics, with Bicol officials joining the bandwagon.
Friday night was a revelation with Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Christopher Co and former Catanduanes Gov. Leandro Verceles Jr. pledging their support for the tough-talking Duterte in a rally attended by about 10,000 spectators at the old central business district here.
Bichara, who is ending his term as Albay representative, is running for governor of Albay while Verceles is staging a comeback in the lone congressional district of Catanduanes against reelectionist Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the Liberal Party (LP).
Andaya, who earlier supported Sen. Grace Poe in her presidential bid, said he switched to Duterte because the Davao mayor was a leader who could stand for him and the interest of Camarines Sur province.
“It was a process. There were feelers sent. The agreement is mutual. Rounds of consultations with leaders were done and the obvious answer was to transfer to the camp of Duterte,” he said.
Andaya, a Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) candidate, is the incumbent representative of the first district of Camarines Sur and running for reelection against priest Apolinar “Yonyon” Napoles of LP.
At the end of his more than two hours of regaling his audience with his talk filled with expletives and street language, Duterte raised the hands of Andaya, Bichara, Verceles, Co and a number of candidates running for local positions in Naga City.
Dante Jimenez, founder of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and an avid supporter of Duterte, said people who gathered to see the tough-talking mayor and closed traffic here were not herded.
“We can see that Bicolanos stuck it out with Duterte. It’s unbelievable,” Jimenez said.
He said supporters of Duterte in Bicol were now being called “One Bicol,” which was conceptualized in Masbate when Duterte visited the island province in the second week of April.
Jimenez said One Bicol comprised prominent politicians in the region that included former Gov. Jesus Typoco Jr. of Camarines Norte, Andaya of Camarines Sur, Verceles of Catanduanes, the late Leovic Dioneda (who died on April 18, but replaced by his son, Mark Eric, in the Sorsogon City mayoral race) in Sorsogon, former Gov. Antonio Kho in Masbate, and Bichara and Co in Albay.
Earlier, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said he and three other Bicol governors—Edgardo Tallado of Camarines Norte, Miguel Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur and Raul Lee of Sorsogon—were supporting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Grace Poe.
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