By JEROME SAGCAL, INDAY ESPINA-VARONA | Rappler
Former public works secretary Mark Villar formally joins the 'Uniteam' Senate slate
BACOOR, Cavite – Former senator and presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, drew cheers from a huge crowd in Bacoor City on Thursday, December 9. The two traded praise and forecast a new dawn of unity for a country emerging from the ordeals of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a row of green shirts, Marcos’ red shirt stood out, along with the orange shirt of former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.
Marcos first introduced Villar, who was originally nominated for the PDP-Laban Senate slate, and urged the audience to vote for him. In Filipino, he called Villar hard-working and credited him for the roads and infrastructure that people need for business and livelihood. He also credited Villar for the impact of President Rodrigo Duterte’s flagship Build, Build, Build projects.
Villar later promised to pursue, as a legislator, unfinished tasks of the Build, Build, Build program.
Aside from Marcos and Duterte, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sat on the stage as the acknowledged leader of Lakas-CMD. Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, both on the Uniteam Senate slate, were present with Senator Bong Revilla, who introduced Marcos.
Crowds greeted the Uniteam caravan on the way to the Bacoor event, but Uniteam took smaller side roads to Cavite, having learned from the massive traffic jam caused by their December 8 Quezon City caravan. Marcos and Duterte traveled separately from the supporters’ caravan, using the the Centennial highway, where crowds waved and cheered on the sidewalks. They also had a contingent of motorcycle riders.
Duterte and Marcos roused equally loud screams and chants from an audience of thousands.
The Davao City mayor did not shirk from addressing the confusion that preceded the cementing of the Uniteam pair.
She said her choice to run for a third term as mayor was rocked when people started approaching her after President Duterte dropped his plan to contest the vice presidential race.
“It was a second chance to respond to the people’s cry to have another Duterte in office,” the mayor said in Filipino.
The loudest roar in the event greeted Sara when she explained her sliding to the vice presidential post despite being the presidential front-runner in surveys.
“Turo po sa akin ng mga lolo at lola, na sa buhay natin, dapat nauuna ang pagkakumbaba,” she said. (My grandfather and grandmother taught me that in life, we need to be humble.)
But while personal decisions and wishes often come first, Sara said, “sometimes in our lives we have to stand behind another leader.”
She likened herself to a voter making her choice of leader, citing Marcos’ long experience in an executive position as Ilocos Norte governor.
“Isang tanong lang, isang sagot, nasabi niya na sa akin ang lahat na gusto kong marinig,” Sara said, explaining what convinced her to become his running mate. (I asked one question, he gave one answer, and told me all I wanted to hear.)
The tandem spoke in general terms about the need to give people the money they need, to preserve and expand jobs, to provide opportunities for citizens to engage in business.
“What we want to show the world is a united Philippines emerging from the pandemic,” the mayor said.
She also said Marcos fit her definition of an ideal leader, “matatag sa trabaho natin at walang pinipili, mayaman o mahirap (steadfast in our work and treating everyone, rich or poor, in the same way).”
Macros, in turn, praised Sara for her excellent qualities as local chief executive and for being “pinaka-principled” (the most principled) in decision-making.
The Uniteam standard-bearer said he and Duterte shared the same views and approaches to solving the country’s problems.
“Through all the crises faced by the country, we overcame because of our unity,” he said, hammering on his campaign theme.
“If someone from the Ilocos and someone from Davao, coming from two opposite sides of the country, can come together, then it bodes well for our uniting the rest of the country,” he said in Filipino.
Marcos said their tandem did not just want survival for a people battered by a pandemic.
“We want to instill hope for progress,” he stressed. He asked the crowd to mark the day. “Dito sa Bacoor sinimulan natin ang kilusan ng pagkakaisa muli.” (Here in Bacoor, we launched the movement for the revival of unity.)
He then quoted from a song popularized in the era of his father, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, “ako ay pilipino, taas noo kahit kanino (I am a Filipino, my head is raised high),” saying he did not want national pride only in politics but in every aspect of life.
Meanwhile, Revilla was effusive in his praise for Duterte, saying if she had agreed to adopting him as the “13th member” of what is normally a 12-person slate, he would not have won the 2019 mid-year elections.
The senator did not mention his legal troubles during that time, as a respondent in plunder cases linked to ghost projects in the pork barrel scandal. He was cleared of the charges in July this year. – Rappler.com