Manila Standard : UniTeam appeals to Filipinos to protect their votes

By Maricel Cruz | Manila Standard

Tagum City, Davao del Norte—The UniTeam tandem of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has appealed to Filipinos to vote on Monday and thereafter protect their votes.

The BBM-Sara team made the appeal during a rain-drenched miting de avance in this southeastern city attended by a mammoth crowd here, the second in a series of three assemblies meant to cap the UniTeam election campaign.

After exercising their right to vote, Marcos said their supporters must remain vigilant and protect their votes during the entire voting and canvassing process.

The 64-year-old Marcos, speaking in Filipino, exuded confidence that his slate had already won, but asked the voters to guard their votes, even sacrificing sleep on Monday.

He suggested they ask friends to provide three-in-one coffee sachets to keep them awake and avoid detestable developments, alluding to an instance in 2016 when a brownout had Marcos losing his lead to eventual Vice President Leni Robredo in their first electoral duel.

In her own speech, Duterte-Carpio thanked the crowd in Bisaya for making them feel that victory in the polls was imminent.

“Pag sinabi ng TAGUMpay, panalo na, panalo na ang lahat,” Duterte-Carpio said, giving reference to the city’s name, chasing that with an appeal to voters to vote for Marcos.

The Davao mayor and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats chairperson repeatedly told the crowd that she loved them, on top of reiterating to them her call for economic recovery and individual protection from the pandemic. “Mahal ko kayo! Mahalin natin ang Pilipinas,” she said.

The UniTeam duo made these remarks amid the release of OCTA Research’s final presidential and vice presidential survey results before the May 9 polls.

The duo reiterated their commitment to heal and unite the country after Monday’s elections, if they win the people’s mandate.

They said the campaign had become toxic, divisive, and acrimonious, as evidenced by various political colors that opposing political groups have associated themselves with.

There should only be one color after the nation elects its new leaders—white, representing hope and unity that will lead to progress, they said.

They also reiterated their promise to continue reopening the economy and the nation, while remaining vigilant against coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and to pursue the programs of the Duterte administration, including the campaign against illegal drugs and criminality and its massive Build, Build, Build infrastructure development push.

UniTeam’s first miting de avance with mammoth crowds was held in Guimbal, Iloilo on Tuesday, while the culminating Luzon rally will take place in Parañaque today, the last day of the election campaign.

Reacting to the latest OCTA Research survey, Duterte-Carpio said she and Marcos had decided to prepare themselves for any development.

The protection of votes has been the call of UniTeam as of late, especially Marcos, who has said that anything can happen in the polls if people let their guard down.

Marcos’s closest rival had a voter preference of 25 percent, while the second-placed candidate to Duterte had 22 percent.

In his speech before the Tagum animated crowd of thousands, Marcos urged the electorate to vote for the nation’s unity and future by electing him.

Marcos told them he chose Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago chairwoman Duterte-Carpio as his running mate and their senatorial candidates under UniTeam because “we share a common desire to see people come together behind their newly elected leaders so they can face the challenges ahead with single-mindedness.”

He said the May 9 elections were meaningful since it was taking place while the nation was in the middle of two crises – the COVID-19 pandemic and economic difficulties.

Marcos said: “We are still in a crisis situation due to the pandemic; we are in the midst of an economic crisis triggered by the same pandemic.”

“Monday’s vote is very important because it will determine the direction that our country will take. On Monday, your vote for the Marcos-Duterte tandem and the UniTeam is a vote for the future, for unity, for love of country.”

“This is the reason why your vote is very important. This is very important not only because it is a civic duty but also an act to help our country to continue the movement to unify our people.”

Marcos vowed that he, Duterte, UniTeam senators, and his allies would do all they could to deliver on their promises, should they win the people’s mandate.

“The Marcos-Duterte tandem promises that it will do its best, with industry and continuous effort for the country to enable us to rise again,” he said.

He said they were happy that people in urban and rural communities that they had visited embraced their message and their aspirations for the country.

Marcos added: “This is the reason why we never wavered in our belief that unity is needed at this time… unity will bring us to progress and good life that will see more money in the pockets of Filipinos, more jobs available, more food on the table, and better education for
the children and most of all we will see a better life not only of a few but of all Filipinos.

“We saw in our campaign sorties that our countrymen are accepting the message of unity. We are witness to the fact that more and more people join forces with UniTeam’s call for unity. We are not surprised because we know that we have loving people that care for each other.”

Echoing Marcos’ appeal for unity, Duterte-Carpio said political partisans should forget about divisiveness represented by various colors—red, pink, green, yellow, orange—after the nation chooses its new set of leaders.

They should think that they are all Filipinos belonging to one country, she said.