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VIGAN CITY — Campaign centers for Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo continue to sprout in Northern Luzon, a known election stronghold of the Marcos clan, with Abra joining the list of provinces putting up a Leni-Kiko volunteer headquarters.
In time for the February 8 start of the national campaigns, Abra for Leni opened its headquarters at the Oval Era Mall in the capital town of Bangued.
“We had a mass attended by a good number of people, then immediately after that we had a stationary caravan and then the ribbon cutting and blessing of our Leni-Kiko Headquarters,” said mall owner Oscar “Bingboy” Valera, Jr.
A businessman and related to a known political clan in the province, Valera said he connected with the Leni-Kiko campaign through his lawyer friend Howie Calleja, one of conveners of 1Sambayan.
Valera was among the top contributors to Senator Grace Poe’s bid for the presidency in 2016 and 2019 senatorial race.
“I am also with 1Samabayan and have attended its meetings. Since I am a Valera and have a mall in Abra, I placed Leni tarpaulins all over the mall,” he said.
This initiative started the ball rolling for Robredo’s supporters, with youth groups reaching out to Valera, “at a time when I was also looking for groups to help me with the campaign.”
“The youth groups came to me, shared that they cannot move around due to financial issues so I helped them to go around the province. First was the Leni lugawan (porridge), which we had done five already,” he said.
Valera recalled that youth volunteers were the leading movers of the campaign at the start, “but now people are joining, our presence is being felt, and this time it is no longer just the youth.”
“We are very much present in the main towns, and we don’t have an issue [regarding the campaign] with the siting official since they are my friends,” he said.
He is hopeful that with the opening of the headquarters, they can get more people to help in the campaign.
“We have silent people, silent supporters of Leni, who are still hesitant to come out, but there are already lawyers and even prominent people in the province,” he said.
Valera said the center’s opening is an essential part of the campaign. For him, it is a means “to let people know that there is no Solid North.” – Rappler.com
Sherwin De Vera is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.