PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, drew tens of thousands to the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor arena, on Tuesday for a proclamation rally billed by their UniTeam camp as fit for the tandem to beat.
Marcos, who has led most of the major pre-election surveys, affirmed his message of unity, a theme he has consistently carried in all public forums and pronouncements since throwing his hat in the presidential derby in October.
The former senator has said that if he wins on May 9, he would focus solely on uplifting the Filipinos’ lives, solving deep-rooted problems, and will not indulge in a politics of vendetta, which he had earlier blamed for the country’s slow progress since 1986 when his father was overthrown in a bloodless “revolt” and the family went into exile.
In the past week, the Bongbong-Sara tandem had, by way of drumming up support for their “unity” platform, sewn up support in some southern regions, notably the leading political clans in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat; and key local officials in the Leyte provinces, where Marcos Jr. had drawn support for his quick response in the past to calls for help from communities badly hit by calamities.
His mother Imelda comes from Leyte, which in 2013 bore the brunt of super cyclone “Yolanda” (international code name Haiyan), and which was also recently hit by typhoon Odette (international code name Rai).
Marcos Jr. said he embraced unity as his main theme because of his firm belief that it is only with unity that the country can surmount all the problems, challenges and calamities it faces, as it has always done in the past.
The Bongbong-Sara team is expected to disclose the name of a 12th senatorial candidate by Wednesday if negotiations are concluded, Marcos Jr.’s spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez said.
Right now, the UniTeam has declared the following names it is pushing for the next Senate: incumbents Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sherwin Gatchalian, House Deputy Speakers Loren Legarda and Rodante Marcoleta, lawyer Larry Gadon, former Cabinet secretaries Mark Villar (Department of Public Works and Highways), Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro (Department of National Defense), Gregorio Honasan (Department of Information and Communications Technology), and Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
As she acknowledged what she called the 11 “Unity senators,” Duterte-Carpio candidates mentioned as well other people “running as senators who will remain my friends” regardless of politics: actor Robin Padilla, former Secretary Sal Panelo, Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero, former National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Senator JV Ejercito and incumbent Senator Joel Villanueva.
Sara said the “past two years have been very challenging for us” because the pandemic worsened whatever serious problems the country faced before the onset of the contagion.
Speaking partly in Filipino, Sara vowed, “we shall move forward…bounce back like never before,” adding they are offering to the electorate a tandem endowed with “wisdom and experience.”
Duterte-Carpio said she believes in Bongbong’s ability to lead as President. “This has been proven by his long experience as local chief executive, and legislator. The kind of experience we need not only to sustain the growth and development spurred by the current administration, but also to bring a more prosperous future.”
For her part, Duterte-Carpio said, her record in Davao speaks for itself: Davao is now the fourth most competitive city in the country. Davao City is debt-free; and there are no human-rights complaints.