CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – It was not the size of the crowd – estimated by the police at 10,000 – that surprised those who stood by for presidential bet Grace Poe’s sorties in this city on Wednesday, April 20.
Just before the rally at the Pueblo de Oro Township, Liberal Party congressional bet Rolando Uy of the city's first district endorsed Poe at the Middleton hotel, asking the some 300 barangay (village) leaders to do the same.
Uy later went on stage at the rally to reiterate his endorsement of the independent presidential candidate.
He is the first LP member in the city to openly abandon party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II. His son Rainier Juaquin is LP's vice mayoralty bet in the city.
The older Uy clarified, however, that reelectionist Mayor Oscar Moreno, a fellow Liberal, is still his candidate in the local polls.
The congressional candidate also said that being from Mindanao does not necessarily mean he would go for a Mindanaoan presidential candidate, referring to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who had overtaken Poe for the top spot in surveys.
Pressed by Rappler for the reason he is supporting Poe instead of Roxas, Uy said: “I just want to help. No more talk. Less talk, less mistake."
The talk in political circles here, however, indicate that Roxas is supporting Uy’s rival Candy Darimbang. The leadership of the party's local chapter supposedly chose Uy over Darimbang as official candidate because he had been with LP for a long time, although Darimbang is a also a party mate.
'It started here'
Poe became sentimental during the rally, telling the crowd that her first ever campaign rally in her first candidacy – for senator in 2013 – was in Cagayan de Oro.
“I remember I started at the Carmen public market,” she said in Filipino.
Carmen is the city's biggest barangay and is Uy’s turf. Poe recalled that even then, Uy joined her in doing the rounds of the public market, where they shared breakfast with the vendors.
In 2013, Poe ran for senator under the LP-led coalition.
She said her first presidential debate was also in Cagayan de Oro. “I don't know why, but this city is special to me,” she told the cheering crowd.
Villanueva Mayor Julio Uy (not related to the congressional candidate) also joined Poe onstage. Julio Uy, who is running for governor of Misamis Oriental is the husband of Misamis Oriental Second District Representative Juliet Uy, who also joined the rally.
The husand and wife tandem are members of the National Unity Party but are allies of the Liberal Party.
Earlier that day, Poe campaigned in Iligan City and in the towns of Initao, Tagoloan, and Villanueva in Misamis Oriental. She visited major public markets in Puerto and Agora, where supporters waited for her for hours.
In Cagayan de Oro, buses and jeepneys ferried thousands of her supporters from other parts of Northern Mindanao as early as 8 am. They all wore white, Poe’s campaign color.
FPJ and promises
Poe started her speech with how her father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr loved Mindanao.
“My father admired and cared for Mindanao. His movies were full of valiant characters who hailed from here,” she said in Filipino.
She then recited a list of promises to improve the quality of lives of Mindanaoan, including her plan to allot at least P1 trillion for the island’s development, and the Mindanao Railway System.
Poe's campaigned here with her senatorial candidates Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, former Makati vice mayor Edu Manzano, and Shalani Romulo, who represented her husband Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo. – Rappler.com