The first day of the “Unity Caravan” of vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. in Mindanao rolled off to a good start on Wednesday after mayors of the 10 municipalities of South Cotabato unanimously pledged their support for his candidacy.
Political leaders said the local support for Marcos is unprecedented as it is the first time all the ten mayors of South Cotabato are supporting a common candidate.
Marcos thanked local officials and residents of South Cotabato and General Santos City as well as his political leaders and supporters, for the enthusiastic welcome they gave him, citing in particular the huge crowd that greeted him in the town of Tupi.
“We are no longer in Luzon, we are already in Mindanao, but we are getting the same warm reception that we have been getting everywhere we go. It has been a very satisfying and productive visit,” said Marcos.
The South Cotabato mayors affirmed their commitment to support the candidacy of Marcos during their luncheon meeting at the FB Hotel and Convention Center at Koronadal City.
Among those present in the meeting were mayors Albert Palencia of Banga, Antonio Fungan of Lake Sebu, Victor Balayon of Norala, Honey Lumayag-Matti of Polomolok, Antonio Damandaman, Sr. of Santo Nino, Antonio Bendita of Surallah, Leonardo Escobillo of Tampakan, Benjamin Figueroa,Jr. of Tantangan, Dibu Tuan of T’boli, and Reynaldo Tamayo of Tupi.
“This is the first time that all the town mayors of South Cotabato were united to support a single candidate, our candidate for Vice President: Senator Marcos,” Mayor Figueroa announced to residents of his town who welcomed the senator during his brief stop at the Tantangan municipal hall.
Earlier, General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera also accompanied Marcos when the senator spoke during a multi-sectoral meeting at the city’s Oval Gymn.
Meanwhile, Marcos is confident local officials of Mindanao who have pledged their support for him would not be deterred by any pressure that the administration may exert on them.
Marcos made the remark when asked during a press briefing for his reaction on reports that Malacanang is closely monitoring local officials who are backing his vice presidential bid.
“As we go around the country we have been hearing reports that some local officials were being pressured by the administration to dissuade them from supporting my candidacy,” Marcos said.
Marcos said that based on his experience when a political leader has made a commitment to support a candidate—like many Mindanao political leaders who committed to support him—they keep their word no matter what.
Earlier, a news article quoted outgoing dean Antonio La Vina of the Ateneo De Manila School of Government, saying politicians in Mindanao are likely to carry Marcos as vice president regardless of who they prefer to be their next president.
In his Facebook post, La Vina, who was of those who signed a statement blasting Marcos for defending the martial law era, said his recent trip to Mindanao showed him that the politicians he was able to talk to were carrying Marcos as their VP regardless of their candidate for president.
"It seems also, regardless of presidential preference, that most of them will be carrying Marcos as their VP," La Vina declared.