JV Ejercito skips UNA’s GenSan rally

Edwin G. Espejo
Pacquiao leads big UNA rally in General Santos

San Juan representative JV Ejercito-Estrada was the only UNA candidate not present in the sortie. Estrada had to fly back to Manila for personal reasons. RAPPLER/John Javellana


GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Finally, a big crowd for opposition ticket United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in its second Mindanao leg.

Estimates of the crowd that attended UNA’s rally here Saturday evening, March 23, varied from a low of 4,000 to a high of 12,000. 

UNA candidates agreed it was one of the biggest crowd turnout for them as they wind up the second Mindanao leg of their nationwide campaign.

The 78-year-old Ernesto Maceda, a veteran politician, said the crowd was the biggest they’ve had in Mindanao. UNA senatorial candidate Miguel Zubiri said he was also overwhelmed by the crowd.  

It was a show of force. Not even President Benigno Aquino III’s Team PNoy dared to hold a rally at the huge Oval Plaza where a crowd of 2,000 will look like scattered joggers on a Sunday morning.

At UNA’s rally, the Oval Plaza was packed. It was a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, one of the bigger gatherings there in recent months. The vehicles that brought UNA supporters also formed a perimeter fence that compressed the crowd and made it look compact.

JV skips sortie 

Eight out of the 9 UNA candidates attended the campaign rally. The only UNA candidate missing was San Juan Rep JV Ejercito-Estrada.

Ejercito was in General Santos Thursday evening, March 21, but he reportedly flew back to Manila to attend his son’s graduation.

But there might be a bigger reason for his absence.

His father, former President Joseph Estrada, is a close friend of Adelbert Antonino, the father of re-electionist General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio. 

The former President and Adelbert are said to be drinking buddies.

Pacquiao is supporting Antonino-Custodio’s rival, his partymate and close friend Ronnel Rivera.

Pacquiao for Bro Eddie, Bam Aquino

But it wasn’t only the UNA candidates that Pacquiao asked the crowd to vote for. He endorsed Jesus Is Lord founder and preacher Eddie Villanueva.

Villanueva shared the stage with UNA candidates. Pacquiao raised Villanueva’s hands towards the end of the rally that lasted more than 3 hours.

Pacquiao also announced he is also supporting Bam Aquino, cousin of President Benigno Aquino III, of the administration ticket Team PNoy.

Bam Aquino visited Pacquiao at his residence in January.

During the rally, Pacquiao said he will support another senatorial candidate to complete his 12-man lineup. He has not disclosed who. 

Pacquiao, an 8-division world boxing champion, is seeking re-election as representative of the lone district of nearby Sarangani province. He is running unopposed.

His brother Rogelio “Roel” Pacquiao is also running for a congressional seat in the First District of South Cotabato. – Rappler.com

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