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LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines – Despite the stormy weather, young people packed the outdoor area of Hoops Dome here for his “Bilis Kilos Isko Concert Rally” on Friday night, April 8.
It was Moreno’s first campaign rally here, but he previously visited Cebu at least six times since filing his certificate of candidacy for president in October 2021.
“Kailangan masugid tayong manligaw sa mga mamamayan (We need to be aggressive in courting the people),” Moreno told reporters during an ambush interview on the sidelines of the concert. “Lalo na sa Cebu (Moreso here in Cebu),” he added.
Cebu is the most vote-rich province in the Philippines, including its independent cities. The province has over 3.2 million voters, with over 210,000 voters in Lapu-Lapu alone.
In his speech at the campaign rally, the presidential candidate tailored his speech to the mostly young audience and what he thought their concerns would be.
“Gusto ‘nyo ba ng mabilis na internet? Gusto ‘nyo ba ng trabaho? Alam na this (Do you want fast internet? Do you want a job? You know what to do),” Moreno told the crowd.
Neither police nor organizers had a crowd estimate as of this posting.
This was the last of three events planned for Moreno in Cebu on Friday. Earlier Friday, Moreno did not make it to his first event in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, the city’s most vote-rich barangay, due to flight delays.
His son Joaquin and wife Dynee took his place at the packed gymnasium in Guadalupe village. (READ: Isko Moreno’s wife, actor son bring smiles to Cebu rally)
He caught up in another event in Barangay Tinago, Cebu City, before proceeding to Lapu-Lapu.
Moreno’s campaign seemed to resonate with younger Cebuanos compared to other candidates, where supporters enthusiastically shouted his “two joint” trademark hand sign when they saw the mayor.
Several attendees Rappler spoke to at the rallies were in senior high school.
A vendor in Guadalupe said she was disappointed that her “idol,” vice presidential candidate Willie Ong, who has over 16 million followers on Facebook, was not with Moreno during his campaign stops.
During Moreno’s 2016 senatorial run, he received at least 585,000 votes from Cebu province and its independent cities. Although this is a significant number of votes, he did not make it into the island’s top 12 picks for senator.
Still, Moreno is optimistic that he can convince Cebuanos to support him. “I am happy with the warm reception of the people,” Moreno said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Earlier this week, IM Pilipinas Visayas chapter, a volunteer group for the Moreno campaign, withdrew support for his campaign, supposedly due to low survey standings. They shifted allegiance to the presidential candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo, who is ranked second in voter preference survey, though still far from frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Moreno, who is third among presidential candidates in the surveys, dismissed the significance of the announcement made by the spokesperson of this group Nick Malazarte.
“It’s only one person,” Moreno said, implying that Malazarte did not speak for the entire volunteer network.
“This is democracy. At least, may isang nawala, may isang daang dumating. Siyempre, napakafluid ngayon. ‘Yung malalaking politiko will continue to buy people. They will buy, from one presidential candidate. Talagang hiningan siya ng pera, ‘di niya kaya,” he added.
(At least one left, a hundred more came. Of course, everything is fluid now. But politicians will continue to buy people. They will buy, from one presidential candidate. They really asked for money that he did not have.)
Moreno was referring to comments made by Senator Panfilo Lacson that his former party Partido Reporma, led by Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Panteleon Alvarez, had asked him for additional funding, and dropped support for him when he could not come up with the funds.
Alvarez had clarified that the amount was for poll watchers which are critical in any campaign. He also said shifting support to Robredo, whose campaign was gaining ground, was the consensus of Davao del Norte leaders. (READ: P800-M funding drought led to Alvarez dropping Lacson)
In the March Pulse Asia survey conducted between March 17 to 21, Moreno ranked third at 8%. Marcos Jr. had a voter preference rating of 56%, followed by Robredo with 24%. Based on the results of the survey, in the Visayas, Moreno also placed third at 7%, behind Marcos’ 54%, and Robredo’s 30% rating.
In an effort to convince Cebuanos to support him, Moreno also repeated his line, “Kung pagod na kayo sa walang tigil ng palitan ng pula at dilaw, available ako (If you’re tired of the unending exchange between red and yellow, I’m available),” referring to the colors associated with the Marcoses and the Aquino family and their political allies.
On Saturday, April 9, Moreno will meet with barangay officials in Cebu City before proceeding to a rally in Toledo City in eastern Cebu.
The event takes place in the bailiwick of his strongest ally in the province, Cebu City 3rd District Representative PJ Garcia. – Rappler.com