Wooing QC: Unopposed allies, local leaders key for LP

Bea Cupin
Wooing QC: Unopposed allies, local leaders key for LP
But even if Quezon City officials don yellow, clinching the nod of the vote-rich city might not be that easy for the LP tandem

MANILA, Philippines – In an electoral contest that’s proving to be tighter and tighter as the months progress, Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II and running mate Leni Robredo have found staunch allies in politicians from the most vote-rich city in the country: Quezon City.

Quezon City officials aren’t only campaigning for the LP tandem in their respective districts, but all over the country. (READ: Can ‘Daang Matuwid’ win a Philippine election?)

Marami akong utang sa Quezon City (I owe a lot to Quezon City),” Robredo told reporters on Wednesday, February 17, on the sidelines of a 4-stop visit around the city, home to over 1.1 million registered voters.

Many of the city’s congressional representatives serve as either proxies of the pair in sorties around the country, or play crucial roles in their campaigns.

Third district representative Bolet Banal is Robredo’s “close-in political consultant,” who tags along in almost all of her sorties. The city’s 6th district representative, Kit Belmonte, is a mainstay inside Balay, the LP headquarters.

Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte is the national chairperson of the Lakas ng Kababaihan Leni for VP Movement, while 5th district representative Alfred Vargas is among Roxas and Robredo’s proxies in events.

NCR CAMPAIGN. Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista leads the LP's efforts to court the National Capital Region. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

Mayor Herbert Bautista heads the LP’s efforts to campaign for its “Daang Matuwid” slate not only in Quezon City but in the entire National Capital Region (NCR). 4th district representative, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, meanwhile, is the campaign manager of the LP-led coalition.

That Quezon City officials are rooting for both Roxas and Robredo is unsurprising. Most of the city’s incumbent elected leaders are members or allies of the Liberal Party – from its mayor, district representatives, to city councilors.

Most of its incumbents are also running unopposed in 2016.

‘Everybody on board’

But even if Quezon City officials don yellow, clinching the nod of the vote-rich city might not be that easy for the LP tandem. When Roxas ran for vice president in 2010, he lost in the city – albeit by a slim margin – to the eventual winner, Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Metro Manila, home to more than 6.2 million registered voters, traditionally vote for the opposition. True enough, Roxas and Robredo are among the weakest in the mega city, according to the latest preference polls.

Only 10% of NCR residents polled in Laylo Research Strategies’ January 2016 survey said they would vote for Roxas. That places him at a distant 4th behind Senator Grace Poe, Binay, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

During the first of Roxas and Robredo’s 4-event blitz around the city on Wednesday, Bautista called on barangay leaders to support the duo.

Harap-harapan, lahat tayo dito…straight po tayo LP candidates. President Mar Roxas, Vice President Leni Robredo, at lahat ng labing-dalawang senador po dito. Wala hong sasalikwat sa inyo. Sinabi na sa akin ni Cesar, sinabi na sa akin ng presidente ng district 2, sinabi na sa akin ng presidente ng mga kagawad sa lahat ng distrito: tatrabaho tayo, sisiguraduhin nating mananalo ang Mar Roxas-Leni Robredo slate dito sa Quezon City,” said Bautista during a lunch-time gathering of barangay leaders from the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd districts of the city.

(We’re facing each other, all of us here, we will support the LP national candidates: President Mar Roxas, Vice President Leni Robredo, and all the 12 senators. Everybody is on board. Cesar already told me, the presidents of district 2 told me, the president of all barangay kagawads of all districts told me: we will work hard, we will make sure that the Mar Roxas-Leni Robredo slate wins here in Quezon City.)

QC CAMPAIGN. Mayor Bautista is among the many LP-allied incumbents in Quezon City. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

Roxas, Robredo, and several of their senatorial candidates met with leaders of the 4th, 5th, and 6th districts over dinner later in the day.

Belmonte made the same pitch, calling on local officials to rally their connections and resources to campaign for Roxas and Robredo.

“We cannot talk to everybody, but we are talking to the leaders of each the community. All of these people here are leaders of the communities, and if you win them over, para ka na ring maraming campaigners in the city (Its like you have many campaigners in the city),” Belmonte told reporters in a chance interview.

Promise of continuity

Roxas, Robredo, and the “Daang Matuwid” senatorial slate are banking their 2016 run on the promise of continuing the supposed gains of the current administration.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Roxas said Quezon City was a good example of how good leadership – and continuity – can bring progress.

Before Bautista took over, Speaker Belmonte was mayor of the city. His daughter, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, is expected to run for mayor when Bautista completes his 3rd and last consecutive term.

In speeches before residents of the city, Roxas vowed to continue key programs under the Aquino administration: the bottom-up budgeting program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and its expansion of PhilHealth coverage.

Walang drama, trabaho lang, paparatingin sa ating mga kababayan ang ating kakayahan, ang ating nagawa na at kung saan natin nais dalin ang ating bansa,” said Roxas when asked how he intends to court Quezon City’s 1.1 million voters.

(No drama, just work. We’ll let them know what we can do, what we’ve done and where we want to take this country.) – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.