MANILA, Philiippines – Will the vote-rich Bicolandia lead Senator Grace Poe to victory?
The presidential candidate now has the support of 5 incumbent Bicol governors, a dismissed governor, and a gubernatorial candidate.
The 5 incumbent governors announced their support for Poe on Monday, April 25, in Camarines Sur.
The 5 governors are Albay Governor Joey Salceda, Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado, Camarines Sur Governor Migz Villafuerte, Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee, and Catanduanes Governor Cely Wong.
Masbate Acting Governor Vicente Homer Revil has yet to formally announce his preferred presidential bet.
Dismissed Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete expressed support for the neophyte senator, according to the statement sent by Poe.
Salceda, provincial chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), earlier announced his withdrawal from the party to support Poe and her running mate, Senator Francis Escudero.
Not too long ago, Salceda was solidly behind administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, and even counted himself among the LP stalwarts' inner circle.
In 2010, Salceda also left then ruling party Lakas-CMD for LP less than a month before the May elections. (READ: 2010 repeat: Is Salceda jumping ship?)
Like Salceda, Tallado was a member of the ruling LP until he was kicked out in June for “grossly immoral conduct.”
Tallado made headlines in late 2014 after his wife, Josie, went missing. Josie later revealed that she had gone into hiding because of threats to her life made by her own husband, after she allegedly uploaded photos of him and his supposed mistress online.
Lee is the provincial chairman of the United Nationalist Alliance in Sorsogon. His wife, Sorsogon City mayor Sally Lee and son gubernatorial candidate Robert “Bobet” Lee Rodrigueza, however, are with the LP, backing the candidacy of Roxas and running mate Leni Robredo.
Villafuerte is a member of the Nacionalista Party. The Villafuertes of Camarines Sur are supporting Poe’s candidacy for president and LP’s Robredo, their townmate.
Wong is no longer running for reelection. While she is supporting Poe, her son Jardin Brian is running for Catanduanes governor under the LP.
While the younger Wong and his opponent, Vice Governor Jose Teves Jr, are rivals on the provincial level, both have thrown their support behind Poe.
Poe, for her part, thanked the governors for their support for her presidential bid. The endorsement came at a time when Poe is trailing behind Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in pre-election surveys.
Bicol has more than 3.1 million voters, with Camarines Sur having 40% of the voting force.
While enjoying the core support of the provincial leaders, Poe said she knows the decision ultimately lies with the people on the ground.
“Naku, hindi ko naman alam, nasa tao pa rin ‘yan. Pero, siyempre, tayo ay nagpapasalamat sa anumang suporta ng mga kaalyado natin o kahit na hindi natin kaalyado noon pero naniniwala din sa ating plataporma. Pero ang puno’t dulo po niyan tao pa rin ang magdedesisyon,” Poe said in Pangasinan on Monday, April 25.
(I don't know, it's still up to the people. But of course, we are thankful for whatever support from our allies or even non-allies then who believe in our platform. But at the end of the day, it's the people who will decide.)
Poe promised Bicolanos she would provide agricultural support and infrastructure projects for the region, including the North-South Railway Project that has been in the pipeline for years. The 653-kilometer railway will connect the region to the rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org