LIPA CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Isko Moreno was the final speaker and special guest of a large proclamation rally led by Senator Ralph Recto to launch the 2022 campaign of his local party One Batangas.
The March 25 rally marking the start of the local campaign period was a show of force for Recto and his party. Organizers estimated an attendance of 65,000. Rappler could not independently verify this figure.
Fourteen senatorial candidates took the stage to woo voters in Lipa City, a major hub of Batangas province where 1.8 million voters have made it the 7th most vote-rich in the country.
Moreno was greeted with cheers and flashes of “two joints” and “God first” hand signs as he arrived in the VIP area with Recto.
Before his arrival, senatorial candidates had already started giving their stump speeches, in between acts by artists, dancers, and comedians.
A total of 17 senatorial bets were either physically present or gave messages through presentations or a surrogate. They came from a spectrum of slates – from human rights lawyer Chel Diokno to plunder defendant Jinggoy Estrada to former vice president Jejomar Binay.
Moreno’s entire four-person senatorial slate were the last to speak.
Three Senate bets were not physically in attendance but were allowed to give messages via presentations or representatives – Binay, Estrada, and Senator Leila de Lima who is detained in Camp Crame over drug charges filed against her by the Duterte administration.
De Lima’s standee was carried onstage as a Batangeño-speaking representative spoke of her track record in the Senate.
The 14 senatorial candidates who physically delivered speeches are the following:
- Joel Villanueva
- Chiz Escudero
- Sherwin Gatchalian
- Chel Diokno
- Risa Hontiveros
- Loren Legarda
- JV Ejercito
- Migz Zubiri
- Richard Gordon
- Mark Villar
- Jopet Sison
- Samira Gutoc
- Carl Balita
- John Castriciones
Moreno’s running mate Willie Ong was also given a chance to speak.
At no point, however, were the national candidates together onstage. They all spoke one by one. Recto, however, joined Moreno onstage and they raised each other’s hand at the end of the presidential bet’s speech as red and white confetti engulfed the venue.
Recto is expected to win his bid for the province’s 6th district congressional seat as he is running unopposed.
One Batangas is fielding incumbent Lipa City Mayor Eric Africa for reelection, Mark Leviste for reelection as vice governor, and Makmak Luancing for reelection as Lipa vice mayor. Africa will seek to keep the mayoralty from his rivals Meynardo “Meynard” Sabili (Partido ng Masang Lipeño or PML) and Nestor Sanares (Partido Para sa Demokratikong Reporma or PDR).
The entertainment during the political gathering was headlined by rock group Aegis and True Faith. There were also performances by DJ Loonyo, love team Sean de Guzman and AJ Raval, and comedian Alex Gonzaga who was there to also promote the candidacy of her husband Michael Morada who is running for Lipa councilor.
Singer and rapper Quest gave a stirring performance of a song dedicated to Moreno, highlighting his “Bilis Kilos” slogan and inspiring journey from garbage collector to Manila mayor.
The Recto-led rally no doubt gave Moreno a massive platform to promote his candidacy. Pulse Asia figures back in February show the Manila mayor enjoyed 7-point increase in ratings – from 5% to 12%.
That the rally was organized by a local party and not Moreno’s team makes it likely that it was attended by Batangueños from a variety of political leanings.
Moreno asked his audience to vote for “pulahan,” his term for the Marcos family, or “yellow-pink” or the Robredo-led Liberal Party, if their lives improved under the leadership of his rivals.
If not, he said, “Available ako.” (I’m available.) – Rappler.com