MANILA, Philippines – Once again, the administration tandem of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo finds another ally from local opposition leaders – this time, it’s Pampanga governor and key Arroyo ally Lilia Pineda.
How did the Liberal Party bets navigate the tricky dynamics of Pampanga politics? (READ: Lord of jueteng? Roxas, Robredo defend Pinedas of Pampanga)
Bea Cupin tells us.
BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas is not losing hope.
In a newly-released Pulse Asia poll, Roxas ranked fourth, trailing behind frontrunners Senator Grace Poe, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
But the administration bet says the ruling party has an ace up its sleeve: incumbency.
MAR ROXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maganda, ibig sabihin ay dikit na ito, nagdidikitan na ito at pagkatapos ng Holy Week ay magsisimula na yung lokal kung saan ay tingin natin, may lamang tayo, dahil marami tayong kaalyado na sumusuporta sa Daang Matuwid. Kaya para sa akin, maayos ito at tulad ng parati kong sinasabi ang pinakaimportante at pinakamakabuluhang survey ay yung gagawin sa Mayo 9.
It’s good news. That means the race is getting tighter and after Holy Week, the local campaign begins and I think we have the upperhand there because a lot of our allies believe in Daang Matuwid. So for me, this is good and like I’ve always said, the most important survey is the one on election day.
BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: The vote-rich province of Pampanga is a clear instance where the ruling party is banking on the power of incumbents.
Home to over 1.2 million registered voters, Roxas and running mate Leni Robredo found a crucial partner in Governor Lilia Pineda.
It’s an alliance that would’ve seemed impossible just a few years back.
Pineda belongs to the local Kambilan party, which in 2013 was a mix of various opposition parties including former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s LAKAS CMD.
Arroyo is the predecessor of LP chairman President Benigno Aquino III, a person often vilified in his speeches around the country.
Dynamics between Pampanga politicians also makes the alliance tricky.
One of the LP coalition’s senate bets is former governor Mark Lapid.
The Lapids and Pinedas are estranged politically, and in the ruling party’s Tuesday visit, Governor Pineda and the former governor turned Senate bet are not seen on stage together.
Both Roxas and Robredo downplay any speculation over their alliance with Pineda, including the family’s supposed links to the illegal numbers game jueteng.
MAR ROXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Siguro yung mga ganung pag iisip ay para lang sa mga may malisya sa kaisipan. Para sa amin, wala namang kapalit ang mga ito, serbisyo ito, siya naman ay nagsabi na gusto nila yung serbisyo na ipinakita sa Pampanga, sa lahat ng bayan ng Pampanga so tinatanggap natin ito.
Maybe that’s a thought for malicious minds. As far as we’re concerned, they’ve not asking for anything in return. This is all about service, Governor Pineda herself has said likes the service here in Pampanga, in all towns and cities in Pampanga so we accept her support.
Robredo says Pineda’s track record as local chief executive is stellar and that her support comes with no strings attached.
LENI ROBREDO, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sabi ko, Nanay pagkatapos nitong lahat titingnan ko pa yung iba mong ginagawa para magaya rin doon po sa lalawigan namin sa Camarines Sur, pinakita po sa akin yung staggering figures lang sa education. Nagulat po ako sa perang nilalaan ng Pampanga para sa inyo, 36 million bawat taon. Bihirang bihira po na ganyan kalaki ang perang nilalaan ng kanyang lalawigan para sa kanyang scholars.
I told Govenor Pineda, when the campaign is done I’ll study the other things you’ve been doing in the province so we can also do it in Camarines Sur. She showed me the straggering figures for education along. I was surprised because the province allocates P36 million yearly for you. It’s rare that a province allocates that much for its scholars.
BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: Roxas only ranks third among presidential candidates in the central luzon region, which Pampanga belongs to. But as he visits the San Fernando, Bacolor, and Candaba, he seems confident he’ll dominate in the province.
In any national elections, allies on the ground are always crucial. As the saying goes: All politics is local. But are Roxas, Robredo and the ruling party’s local allies enough?
Bea Cupin, Rappler. Pampanga. – Rappler.com