By Neil Arwin Mercado | Inquirer.net
LIPA CITY, Batangas, Philippines — With only 19 days remaining before the May 9 elections, presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. made his pitch in vote-rich Batangas province clear: “Walang iwanan [Nobody gets left behind].”
“Kaunti na lang,” Marcos said in his rally here in Lipa. [Translation: “Just a little bit more.”]
“Panalo ka na!” the crowd cheered. [Translation: “You’re already a winner!”]
“Kaunti na lang. Walang iwanan ito, hanggang sa dulo,” Marcos said. [Translation: “Just a bit more. Nobody gets left behind until we reach the end.”]
Getting into a jesting mood, Marcos said in Filipino: “On May 9, I will send tons of three-in-one [coffee] so that nobody will fall asleep. As we all know, so many things happen at night.”
Marcos did not specify what he meant by that. But he was apparently alluding to his loss in the 2016 vice presidential race to then-Camarines Rep. Leni Robredo, who is now his closes rival again — this time in the presidential race.
Back in 2016, in the early hours of the counting of the votes, Marcos was in the lead. Robredo took over Marcos’ lead at around 3:30 a.m. Marcos contested the results of the elections before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Election Tribunal, which eventually junked the case.
In his speech before his supporters in Batangas, Marcos repeated his call for unity. As an example, he cited his partnership with his running mate, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who hails from Davao City, while he himself hails from Ilocos Norte.
“This is because of my belief that unity is the first step in improving the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” Marcos said in Filipino.
Marcos also underscored the need to lower electricity costs and help small businesses that had to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He also vowed to strengthen the agriculture sector, saying that the pandemic showed the issues hounding the industry that could affect food security.
The Marcos-Duterte tandem returned to the Southern Luzon just two days after visiting Cebu province, the most vote-rich province in the country.
On Wednesday morning, Marcos campaigned in Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro while Duterte-Carpio met with several sectors in Batangas City and Malvar town in Batangas. The two reunited in Lipa City for the grand rally.
This is not the first time that the tandem visited the Mindoro provinces, Batangas, and Laguna. After all, these are some of the most vote-rich provinces.
Laguna is the fourth most vote-rich province with over 2.04 million voters and Batangas is seventh with over 1.82 million voters.