2022 Philippine Elections

Governor Defensor hopes Iloilo’s mammoth Leni-Kiko rally inspires other provinces

Joseph B.A. Marzan
Governor Defensor hopes Iloilo’s mammoth  Leni-Kiko rally inspires other provinces

FERVOR. An estimated 40,000 Ilonggos showed up on February 25 at the Iloilo Sports Complex to express their support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo.

VP Leni Media Bureau

Other governors want to come out for the Vice President but cannot do so yet because of party affiliations, says Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.

ILOILO City, Philippines – Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said on Thursday, March 3, that he has not quite gotten over the level of energy he had witnessed at the February 25 grand rally of presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan.

In his weekly press conference, the governor also thanked those who went to the mini-rallies in five municipalities and one component city of the province to see the tandem on the same day, February 25.

He recalled the difficulty of traveling in between towns, leading mini-caravans to meet the people.

Defensor joined Robredo and Pangilinan in all of their stops in Iloilo province, which started in the southern town of Oton.

“If you’ve seen the people at our rallies, from Concepcion to Ajuy, going to Passi [City], Pototan, then to Santa Barbara, until we got to the Iloilo Sports Complex, it was like a People Power Celebration,” the governor told media.

“The volunteerism of the people there.… We also saw their enthusiasm and sincerity, and in my observation, people here are spending their own money and resources,” he added.

“As you can see, they’re bringing their own balloons, T-shirts, and tarpaulins. We took a long time to travel between [the neighboring towns] of Concepcion and Ajuy [as well as between Pototan and Santa Barbara] because there were many people, and we had to stop the motorcades because they brought their own food and gifts,” Defensor pointed out.

The governor, known for his usually calm demeanor, surprised Ilonggos by raising his voice in support of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem during the February 25 event.

Defensor said that he simply “adjusted” to the very “infectious” energy of the “Kakampinks” or the 40,000-strong crowd who packed the  Iloilo Sports Complex that day.

“When I was there, I got carried [away by the energy]. You cannot be timid when you have that kind of crowd, because you are getting engaged. When you stand on the stage, you get brought along by that kind of energy,” he said.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. speaks to reporters during his regular Thursday press conference, with a video summary of the Robredo-Pangilinan Iloilo campaign stop in the background. (Joseph B.A. Marzan)

Defensor hoped that other provinces would match or even exceed the energy given by Ilonggo supporters to the tandem.

“I hope what we did here in Iloilo can also be done in other provinces. It’s better if there is this kind of support. It’s not just the numbers, it’s the quality of the crowd in terms of volunteerism and enthusiasm. I hope this also happens in other provinces,” he said.

Other governors wanted to come out for the Vice President but could not do so because of party affiliations, the governor said.

“They’re still waiting for some signals from the national organization of their parties. There are many leaders, including in our province, whose hearts are for Vice President Leni. I’ve been calling them and talking to them. Maybe they will come out prior to the election, hopefully,” he said.

There is no indication as to whether or not Robredo and Pangilinan would return to Iloilo prior to the election. They will be back in Western Visayas on March 11 for their Negros Occidental campaign stop. – Rappler.com  

Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist and a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.