By Al Jacinto | The Manila Times
ZAMBOANGA CITY: Thousands of residents attended the campaign rally of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. who arrived here Tuesday with some of his senatorial slate, but his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio was notably absent.
Marcos' group, including his local candidates led by Rep. Mannix Dalipe, held a caravan before going to the Universidad de Zamboanga Summit Center in the village of Tetuan where he spoke of his plans and used hand gestures projecting strong leadership.
His supporters cheered as Marcos spoke, promising unity among Filipinos, among other pledges he similarly said in every political rally he attended. The multipurpose indoor sports arena has a seating capacity of 10,000. The venue of the rally was chosen by Professor Esnaen Catong, president of Marcos' Partido Federal ng Pilipinas in the Zamboanga Peninsula, for security reasons and as a contingency for the unpredictable weather condition here.
Mayor Maria Isabelle "Beng" Climaco-Salazar approved the permit for the rally and ordered police and military to secure the university and the venue while Marcos was there. Marcos left the rally shortly before 3 p.m. and headed to the airport where his private jet was parked.
Climaco-Salazar was also waiting for Marcos at the airport and they briefly spoke, with the former senator thanking the mayor for her hospitality. They also gave each other a congenial embrace. Marcos was overheard saying "Oh my gosh, I forget, how are you, it's been a long time," and the duo shook hands several times.
The mayor and Marcos were former colleagues in the House of Representatives in the past and also worked together when the mayor fought for the non-inclusion of Zamboanga City in the Bangsamoro entity when Marcos was then the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government.
Climaco-Salazar has previously admitted supporting the tandem of Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo and Duterte-Carpio and even helped launch the Rosa or Robredo-Sara campaign in Cagayan de Oro City on March 21. Robredo is running for president with Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan as her running mate. Both belong to different political parties — Robredo with the Liberal Party and Duterte-Carpio with Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
The mayor was with Albay Second District Rep. Jose Maria Clemente "Joey" Salceda and Cagayan de Oro City Second District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez in Cagayan de Oro City and promoted the Rosa tandem. The trio also held a news conference at the Mallberry Suites Business Hotel, also in Cagayan de Oro City.