CAVITE, Philippines – Supporters of presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan in this vote-rich province are preparing for a grand rally in the homestretch of the May 9 elections, an event that they aim to be bigger than the first campaign rally they mounted in early March.
Organizers – both volunteers and local politicians – confirmed to Rappler that it is set for May 1, Labor Day, a Sunday, which is a little over a week before election day.
The host city will be Dasmariñas, the most vote-rich local government in Cavite (400,074 registered for 2022). Its political bigwig, 4th District congressman Elpidio Barzaga Jr., has declared his support for Robredo, against the position of the party he heads, the National Unity Party.
The event will be held starting 3 pm at the New City of Dasmariñas Football Field. (In the morning, a smaller rally will be held at the town plaza of Alfonso, around 40 kilometers away.)
Sources from various camps in Cavite told Rappler that organizers were working on ensuring that all district representatives not allied with Robredo’s rival, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., would come out in definite support of Robredo.
So far, only Barzaga and 3rd District Representative Alex Advincula have openly declared support for Robredo. 6th District Representative Luis Ferrer IV, although reportedly supporting fellow Caviteño Panfilo Lacson, is counted as a Robredo ally since he hosted her first meet-and-greet with his constituents in General Trias after she filed her candidacy for president in 2021. Ferrer’s brother, the mayor, also supported the organizers of the first grand campaign rally for Robredo at the General Trias Sports Complex on March 4.
In Cavite, three congressmen from the most influential dynasties have thrown their support behind Marcos: Strike Revilla (2nd District), Boying Remulla (7th District), and Bambol Tolentino (8th District).
The planned May 1 rally for Robredo and Pangilinan continues the crowd size contest of sorts in the province.
On March 4, an estimated crowd of 47,000 showed up at the grand rally organized by the Cavite chapter of the Robredo People’s Council at the General Trias Sports Complex. The enthusiastic response from supporters was said to have shocked even the local organizers and some people on Robredo’s campaign team.
Immediately after, congressman Remulla accused the attendees of being paid and bussed in, and said some of them were trained by communist front organizations in organizing. He pointed to the uniform t-shirts and campaign collaterals used by attendees as proofs that somebody paid for their attendance. This launched the staple “Hindi kami bayad!” chant in succeeding Robredo rallies.
After the event – and the incident – Governor Jonvic Remulla, the congressman’s brother who earlier promised to deliver 800,000 votes for Marcos, told Rappler in a text message he would be organizing a rally with a message of local unity.
On March 22, at the same venue in General Trias where Robredo’s grand rally was mounted, Remulla hosted Marcos’ rally, drawing a crowd that local police estimated to be between 80,000 and 100,000 – about double the size of the “pink” rally. As in Robredo’s rally, some of the attendees in the Marcos rally also came in uniform t-shirts and campaign accessories.
Asked by a Rappler reporter if the event was a direct response to the Robredo crowd from nearly three weeks before, the governor said, “It’s not a pissing contest.”
He said, however, that “Cavite has something to prove,” that was why he “asked him (Marcos) to come back” for this big rally. Marcos earlier went around Cavite on a motorcade at the start of the campaign period.
“Where Cavite goes, the country goes. So it has to start here,” Governor Remulla told reporters on the sidelines of the March rally.
On Monday, April 18, Cavite Board Member Kerby Salazar, the main organizer of the March rally, posted a teaser for the homestretch rally for Robredo.
“Handa ka na ba muli, Cavite?” the video says. “Kay Leni Robredo, lahat imbitado!”
The May 1 rally for Robredo will come a week after another grand mobilization that her volunteers are organizing on her birthday, April 23, along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City. – Rappler.com