Manila Bulletin : Padilla woos Muslims in Quiapo to vote for UniTeam, delivers ‘history lesson’

5 March 2022

By Ellson Quismorio | Manila Bulletin

Senatorial candidate and movie actor Robin Padilla turned to his knowledge of history in his attempt to convince his fellow Muslims to vote for the so-called “UniTeam” tandem in the upcoming May polls.

Despite the religious affinity, Padilla’s task wasn’t easy since the Muslims he was wooing were residents of Quiapo, Manila–the home turf of presidential candidate and Mayor Isko Moreno. Moreno’s running mate is Doc Willie Ong.

The UniTeam ticket, which Padilla has been campaigning with since last month, is led by presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Padilla, who converted to Islam in the mid-90s, told a large crowd at the Manila Golden Mosque and Cultural Center in Quiapo that he had studied Islam and the history of Bangsamoro when he turned Muslim.

“Noong panahon po na nagkaroon ng matinding labanan [sa Mindanao], noong pinaglalaban po ng Bangsamoro ang kanilang mga lupain at ang karapatang pamunuan ang kanilang mga sarili, naging madugo po ang labanan na ‘yan, at noong panahon na yan, nakiusap ang Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos Sr. kay [First Lady] Imelda Marcos na pumunta sa Libya para makipag-usap kay Muammar Gadaffi para magkaroon ng peace talks (In the past when there was intense fighting in Mindanao, when the Bangsamoro was fighting for its lands and for self-determination, it resulted to a bloody conflict and during that time, President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. asked First Lady Imelda Marcos to go to Libya and forge peace talks with Muammar Gadaffi),” he said.

What happened next according to Padilla was that Mrs. Marcos flew to the Libyan capital of Tripoli to talk to the Libyan leader.

“Dun po ipinanganak ang [1976] Tripoli Agreement (The this led to the 1976 Tripoli agreement which ended the fighting in Mindanao). Kasama po sa Tripoli Agreement ang Golden Mosque (in Quiapo) at Blue Mosque (in Taguig, where there is another large Muslim community), at nagkaroon ng mosque sa loob ng Malacanang (The Tripoli Agreement provided for the construction of the Golden Mosque, the Blue Mosque and the mosque inside Malacañang),” Padilla said.

The movie star added that the accord also called for the establishment of two autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao, but that so far only one – the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)–has been set up under the administration of President Duterte.

Padilla then called for support for the UniTeam tandem.

“Sila ang puwede nating maging kakampi upang maisakatuparan ang dalawang autonomous region. Sila ang puwede nating lapitan, sapagkat sa una palang, tinulungan na nila tayo (They can be our allies in pursuing the two autonomous regions. We can rely on them, since they’ve help us from the start),” he said.

For her part, Mayor Duterte, who took part in the Quiapo sortie, expressed her gratitude to the Muslim community for allowing them to present their platforms of government.

“Salamat po sa inyong suporta. Dala-dala po namin ni Bongbong Marcos ang pagkakaisa para sa kaunlaran ng bansa. Humihingi po kami ng suporta sa inyo (Thank you for your support. I, together with Bongbong Marcos bring the message of unity for the country’s progress. We are seeking your support),” Mayor Duterte said.

Bongbong is the son of the late President Marcos, while Sara is President Duterte’s daughter.