NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) leaders in here can claim all they want that the province will go for their standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, but their former party mate, 3rd District Representative Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, said his presidential bet Grace Poe will actually take the vote-rich province.
Observing the turnout in Poe's sorties here on Thursday, April 21, Benitez said the it surely wasn't actor Coco Martin who was drawing most of the crowds but the candidate herself.
“We were talking about this (the crowd). I said, if it’s 18 years old and below, then maybe they're here for Coco Martin, and if 18 years old and above, then maybe for Senator Grace,” he said.
Benitez, who was stripped of his post as LP provincial chairman before he finally resigned to support Poe, expressed doubt about the party's estimate that Roxas would get 1 million votes in Negros Occidental.
One of the most vote-rich provinces, Negros Occidental has 1.6 million registered voters. Roxas considers this his stronghold since his mother, Judy Araneta Roxas, hails from Bago City. However, Poe's adoptive mother, actress Susan Roces, is from Bacolod City.
Benitez downplayed the machinery of the administration. “The machinery usually just protects votes. For it to generate [votes], it's a hard task for any machinery. You've seen it in the past.”
He added: “If I'm not mistaken, Negros Occidental will go for Senator Poe.”
Poe and running mate Senator Francis Escudero, along with Coco Martin, did the rounds of Bacolod and Victorias City, and held a motorcade through Talisay City, Silay City, and EB Magalona town.
They first held a boodle fight with residents of Barangay Banago in Bacolod, where about 2,000 people attended.
During the motorcade, from Bacolod to Victorias, the crowd that waited for them along the roads were estimated at 3,000.
In Victorias City, the Partido Galing at Puso tandem met with an estimated 7,000 barangay leaders from 19 cities and 13 towns of Negros Occidental at the coliseum.
During the rally in Victorias, Poe promised Negrenses she will build bridges connecting the three islands of Negros, Guimaras, and Panay, which is composed of the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Capiz and Aklan. – Rappler.com