Recto: Team PNoy sweep in Batangas hard, but we will try

Campaign manager Franklin Drilon wants a 12-0 win in the vote-rich province, but Batangueño Sen Ralph Recto says that's a tall order

BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – Binay’s Batangas? Team PNoy campaign manager Franklin Drilon doesn’t think so.

“We expect a good showing in Batangas. We will work hard,” Drilon told reporters at a press conference here on Wednesday, February 13.

He is unfazed by the strong support that this province of 1.36 million voters has given Vice President Jejomar Binay, a native of the province who is the stalwart of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Binay’s father hails from Bauan, Batangas.

But while Drilon has been mouthing a “12-0 victory” since a few days before the campaigns started, Batangueño senator and Drilon’s party mate at the Liberal Party said a sweep would be “a tall order.”

Batangas is ranked 8th among provinces with the highest voting population. It is the first stop of Team PNoy on the campaign trail, which Drilon said is a “critical” province and was a natural choice because of its large and strong support for the Liberal Party and its substantial number of votes.

“It will be a tall order, but we will do our best,” Recto said, acknowledging the importance of “getting a majority” in order to continue the reforms of Aquino, and to build up for the 2016 presidential elections.

Drilon said Batangueños would judge for themselves the accomplishments made by President Benigno Aquino III, and expressed doubts that the votes will be split between UNA and Team PNoy.

The results of the 2010 elections, however, would show that Batangas was indeed divided between the two camps’ endorsers. Aquino, running for president, and Binay, running for vice president, both topped the polls here. Aquino got 629,977 votes then, while Binay got 558,748.

RH law backlash

Vice Gov and LP member Mark Leviste said Batangueños has traditionally voted for LP local candidates, and believed this would translate to support for the party’s national candidates.

Leviste also tried to downplay the possible backlash on LP candidates of the local Catholic church’s disappointment over President Aquino’s push for the reproductive health law.

“Let’s make it clear: our administration [here in Batangas] has always maintained a harmonious relationship with the archdiocese of Lipa,” he said. “There is a clear division between our state and the church.”

The province’s congressmen apparently think otherwise. All 4 of them voted against the reproductive health bill pushed by Malacañang when their own Lipa archbishop Ramon Arguelles campaigned against it.

In an interview with Rappler, Arguelles even expressed disappointment in Senator Recto for reneging on his promise to vote against the RH bill. He noted that Recto’s wife, Gov Vilma Santos-Recto, might have been too embarrassed to call him since the voting.

Recto’s vote for the RH bill was seen as his way of making up for his mishandling of the sin tax bill, which the President was also pushing.

On Wednesday, Recto, donned in yellow with his wife, was seated beside Drilon, who replaced him as Senate committee chair that eventually pushed for the approval of the sin tax measure. 

The press conference held at the Batangas Capitol was attended by most of the senatorial candidates of Team PNoy, including Aurora Rep Sonny Angara, presidential cousin Bam Aquino, former senators Jamby Madrigal and Jun Magsaysay Jr, former Akbayan party list representative Risa Hontiveros, former censors chief Grace Poe, Las Piñas Rep Cynthia Villar, and senators Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero. Sen Koko Pimentel sent his mother to represent him.

Senators shared their platforms with local media and voters, and emphasized their plans to improve agriculture and farmer benefits, as well as education and livelihood programs such as micro enterprises. –