And they’re off and running: Tight Philippine presidential race gets underway
Festivities, big promises mark glitzy start of election season
As in past elections, the first day of the campaign period for the 2016 national elections was festive and full of big promises to millions of Filipinos, which are commonplace in the political landscape of showbiz-obsessed Philippines.
Fighting to clinch the presidency in what is perceived to be a tight race, five aspirants seeking the top political post in the country kicked off their 90-day campaign with big words and showbiz-type ceremonies, in the form of song and dance numbers.
The candidates brought in celebrities in their proclamation rallies to entertain crowds of supporters and passers-by, including well-known bands, singers, and comedians.
In obvious attempt to gain mileage, the five leading presidential candidates held their respective kick-off in strategic venues.
It’s Tondo in Manila for Rodrigo Duterte, Welfareville in Mandaluyong City for Jejomar Binay, Plaza Miranda in Manila for Grace Poe, Roxas City for Mar Roxas, and Batac City for Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Duterte and Cayetano kick off rally in Tondo
PDP-Laban held its proclamation rally in Tondo. Manila. Similar activities were held in the cities of Davao, Digos, Zamboanga, Tacloban, Iloilo, Cebu and Butuan.
Chants of “Duterte, Cayetano” formally opened the proclamation rally of presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano in Tondo, Manila on Tuesday.
Thousands of supporters packed the intersection of Morga and Zamora streets near the Sto. Niño Church.
Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesman and head of media group, said Tondo symbolizes the plight of many Filipinos from Visayas and Mindanao, seeking for a better life.
“This is where we aim to start a new beginning for our country and our people,” Laviña said.
The Duterte-Cayetano tandem is running under a platform of fighting criminality, illegal drugs and corruption.
Binay settles in Mandaluyong
Binay started his bid for the presidency among the poor of Mandaluyong and spoke of poverty as the main issue of his campaign. He was accompanied by his running mate, Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, and senatorial hopefuls under his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party.
In his speech, Binay, who in his advertisements has presented himself as the face of the masses, has promised to eliminate poverty and remove income tax if he is elected president. He said poverty remained pervasive even after six years of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
“Malapit nang matapos ang anim na taon, ngunit imbes na mawala o mabawasan man lang, mas lalo pang dumami ang mahihirap,” Binay said.
Binay said the administration’s “tuwid na daan” had left millions of Filipinos still impoverished.
Plaza Miranda again for Poe
Plaza Miranda in front of Quiapo Church is where Poe held her proclamation rally. It was also the place where Llamazares’ adoptive father, the late Fernando Poe Jr., started his presidential campaign in 2004.
Poe is still haunted by the Supreme Court cases questioning her residency and citizenship on the eve of the proclamation rally at the plaza.
She said her main concern was to effectively communicate her platform and her message to the people.
Poe’s spokesperson, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, said: “She has decided to leave her fate to the people, She feels calm and peaceful because she is confident the electorate is wise and will look at the real issues in the elections.”
Roxas capitalizes on city with his name
The ruling Liberal Party (LP) chose the 6,000-seat Capiz Gymnasium in Roxas City to kick off the campaign for its national candidates.
Roxas was joined by President Aquino and his running mate, Leni Robredo. ,
“I am inspired by the challenge of the moment,” Roxas said as he embarked on his quest to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and namesake, the late President Manuel A. Roxas.
Roxas would be anchoring his campaign on the perceived gains of the Aquino administration’s anticorruption drive while trying to parry criticisms brought about by the President’s controversial stance on issues, like the aborted pension increase of Social Security System retirees.
Batac for Santiago
In Batac City, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ hometown, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and her running mate, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, made their first public appearance as a team.
The tandem is banking on the Solid North to deliver Miriam (and Bongbong) to Malacañang as the region has historically done for the Marcoses.
“As we continue to integrate into the knowledge economy, we need leaders who can harness young people’s potentials to help make the Philippines competitive vis-à-vis other countries. We believe that Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Bongbong Marcos are best fit to lead our country to progress and to redeem us from the evils of corruption, crime and inefficient leadership,” MBYM said in a statement.
Filipinos vote on May 9
Candidates will have three months to convince over 54 million voters all over the Philippines that they deserve to succeed President Benigno Aquino III who was catapulted into the presidency in 2010 by a vote of over 15 million vs. former President Joseph Estrada who got around nine million votes.
The actual election will be held on May 9.