Noynoy Aquino to Cebu voters: Future secure with Otso Diretso

Mara Cepeda
Noynoy Aquino to Cebu voters: Future secure with Otso Diretso
The former president courts the sectors in the most vote-rich province, where no local politician showed up to endorse the opposition's senatorial bets

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III urged the country’s most vote-rich province to pick Otso Diretso candidates in May, saying a vote for them is a vote for a more secure future.

The chairman emeritus of the once-ruling Liberal Party (LP) was the star of Otso Diretso’s “gathering of allies” held at the IEC Convention Center in Cebu City on Tuesday, March 26. 

“Nasa atin po ang kinabukasan. Puwede tayong wag umintindi. Puwede tayong gagayahin yong tatlong matsing na sinasabing nagpikit, walang naririnig, walang sasabihin, at sorry na lang kung ano ang dadatnan natin. O puwede nating buuin ang kinabukasan dahil magsisipag tayo ngayon,” said Aquino to a crowd composed mostly of their Cebuano sectoral supporters.

(The future is in our hands. We can choose not to care. We can imitate the 3 monkeys who don’t see, don’t hear, and dont speak up. And we can tell others that sorry, this is where we will end up. Or we can start building on our future because we will persevere now.)

“Kaya ako po – pasensiya na, napahaba – basta pakiusap lang po: diretso lang tayo sa sigurado. At ang kailangan, Otso Diretso,” he added. 

(So for me – sorry, my speech was longer than expected – I appeal to you: vote straight the ones you can rely on. And what we need is Otso Diretso.)

Before endorsing Otso Diretso in Cebu, Aquino has appeared with the slate on the campaign trail only twice: During the Mass held in Caloocan City during the campaign kickoff on February 12 and on the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution on February 23. (READ: Otso Diretso balances the good and the bad of Aquino’s endorsement)

The former president also made his pitch for the slate after speaking to students gathered for the Manindigan Na Democracy Forum held at the Southwestern University on Tuesday afternoon.  

When asked by a reporter after the forum why Cebuanos should vote for Otso Diretso, Aquino said doing so would mean giving solutions to all the things happening under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration that is making the people unhappy.  

“Happy ka ba sa lahat ng nangyayari? Mamili ka na sa kung ano ang nangyayari – sa lengguwaheng ginagamit, sa inaatakeng mga institusyon, sa parang pangangamba…. Kung happy ka, paramihan po ang kanila. Kung di ka happy eh maghanap tayo ng solusyon, ang magbibigay ng solusyon. At sa akin, Otso Diretso [ay] bahagi ng solusyon na yon,” said Aquino.

(Are you happy with everything that is happening? Choose among the things happening – the kind of language being used, the institutions being attacked, the fear…. If you’re happy, then support more of them. If you’re not happy, then let’s look for solutions, those who will provide solutions. And for me, Otso Diretso is part of that solution.)

“’Yon ata ang kailangan natin – hindi lang oo nang oo, pero oo dahil tama umoo. At hihindi dahil tama ang hihindi. So kailangan ng gano’ng boses sa ating mga representante,” added Aquino. 

(Maybe that’s what we need – people who don’t just say yes, but those who say yes because it is right to do so. And those who will say no because it is the right thing to do. So we need that kind of voice among our representatives.)

No political allies present 

Hundreds of supporters and campaign volunteers showed up for Otso Diretso at the IEC Convention Center on Tuesday, but one thing was glaring: no local politician shared the stage with Otso Diretso. Governor Hilario Davide III, who is running for vice governor, was nowhere to be seen. He is an LP member. 

There were, however, posters of Bando Osmena Pundok Kauswagan’s candidate for councilor Alvin Dizon as well as posters of Akbayan displayed at the venue.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, an opposition lawmaker, represented Akbayan and also endorsed the opposition ticket.  

Cebu was once a stronghold of LP. In the 2010 elections, Aquino and his then-running mate Mar Roxas won in Cebu with 980,000 and 1 million votes, respectively. Aquino went on to win the presidency, while Roxas bowed to then-longtime Makati mayor Jejomar Binay.

In the 2016 presidential election, then-Davao City mayor Duterte was number one in Cebu and got 1.133 million votes. Roxas, who was LP standard-bearer, was second to Duterte with 586,091 votes.

Since Duterte’s rise to power, several LP politicians joined the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Among them is former LP member and Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing, who endorsed the administration-allied Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial lineup last week.

Roxas is now running for senator under Otso Diretso, although he rarely joins the other candidates in sorties. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.