President Rodrigo R. Duterte endorsed last night the candidacies of Cong. Gwen Garcia as Cebu gubernatorial candidate and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella as Cebu City mayoralty bet of PDP-Laban.
“Grupo man mi, ako gyud ning suportahan si (We are a group, I will really support) Gwen,” Pres. Duterte said over the microphone when he returned to the podium after a close to two hours of impromptu speech in the Plaza Indepencia during the political rally of the administration party where he also campaigned for their party’s bet for senators and their guest candidates.
The party’s campaign manager, Sen. Manny Pacquiao who spoke ahead of the President also pitched for the administration slate.
Before Pacquiao went to the rally site, he had a exclusive interview with Newsph.org in Radisson Blu hotel where he was billeted.
“Ginapangayo nako ang ilang suporta sa mga kandidato under the PDP-Laban MaBago Ko To, Mangudadatu, Bato, Bong Go, Koko Pimentel and Tolentino and also sa mga guest candidates namin na nasa (I am asking their support to the candidates of PDP-Laban MaBaGo Ko To, Mangudadatu, Bato, Bong Go, Koko Pimentel and Tolentino and also to the guest candidates belonging to the) PDP-Laban,” Pacquiao said addressing it to the Cebuanos.
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino for his part who made a welcome remarks described the political rally as the “biggest ever” for Cebu.
“I will not hold this microphone long, welcome to this biggest ever political rally in the history of Cebu,” Dino said.
Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) spokesman Titus Borromeo had earlier projected at least 120, 000 people to be present in the rally which started past 3pm and ended up before midnight.
(Some reports however said that the crowd was just more than 10,000 when the President arrived past 9pm. The President went first to the nearby Cebu Technological University (CTU) to led the distribution of Unconditional Cash Transfer of P2,400 to select beneficiaries.)
Cong. Garcia went on to promise on the delivery of votes to the party senate ticket which also included guest candidates Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, Sen. Joseph Victor (JV) Ejercito, Taguig City Cong. Pia Cayetano, former Interior and Local Govt. Sec. Rafael Alunan and folk singer Freddie Aguilar,
“May I assure our senatorial candidates our five official senatorial candidates and guest candidates that here in Cebu you can count on the votes of the Cebuanos which gave President Duterte 1.4 million majority because Cebu is a PDP-Laban country,” Garcia declared.
After his speech, the President raised the hands of Garcia and Labella in separate batches along with their respective running mates, Daphne Salimbangon and former Mayor Michael Rama.
All the congressional candidates (incumbents included for both the province and Cebu City) were also endorsed as well as the mayoralty bet for Mandaue City, Cong. Jonas Cortes and Lapu-Lapu City mayoralty aspirant Junard “Ahong” Chan, the Pajo barangay Captain.
Mandaue City congressional bet Emmarie “Lollypop” Ouano-Dizon was also endorsed along with Lapu-Lapu City congressional aspirant, Atty. Eugene Espedido.
What was observable however outside the Plaza Indepencia were the fleet of buses, vans and trucks that were used as the transportation of those who attended.
A barangay official who asked not to be named said that they were provided free transportation and food.
“Nag provide man sila ug sakyanan unya pack lunch pud sa pagkaon (They provided us vehicles and packed lunch for food),” the barangay official said.
Among those whose hand was raised by the President also is that of San Fernando Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya who recently survived an ambush.
Reluya’s husband, Ricardo, her supposed running mate, was killed in the incident along with two others in Linao, Talisay City last January 22.
The Mayor is facing businessman Ruben Feliciano.
Also present in the rally was former House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, the PDP-Laban Secretary-General and PDP-Laban member, actor Philip Salvador, who rendered a song and had a dialogue play with Go, the former Special Assistant to the President (SAP).