Quezon City mayoral aspirant and Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor has withdrawn his request to reserve the Quezon Memorial Circle’s Liwasang Aurora for December 8, the day he intended to hold a campaign rally for presidential and vice presidential aspirants Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte.
But his withdrawal letter addressed to his 2022 opponent, incumbent Mayor Joy Belmonte, was filled with fresh tirades against her, even though her city hall offered him a covered court that can accommodate 3,000 people for their pre-campaign period sortie.
“We find your obstinate refusal to allow us to use the much larger Liwasang Aurora and confine the supporters of the BBM-Sara team to a mere basketball court highly irresponsible,” Defensor wrote in his December 1 letter which was obtained by Rappler on Thursday, December 2.
In another statement on Thursday, Defensor said his team abandoned plans to “hold a large gathering” in Liwasang Aurora because the Quezon City government did not offer them assurance that they would be able use the venue.
“We feel that Bongbong and Inday Sara have been treated unfairly and have become victims of political discrimination by the Quezon City government,” Defensor said.
Here’s why the Quezon City hall hesitated to allow Defensor’s camp to use Liwasang Aurora for their political rally: it is designated as a child-friendly zone, and letting crowds of supporters there might put at risk the unvaccinated children who visit the area with their parents.
The back-and-forth letters between Defensor and city hall beginning November 25 also showed that the congressman originally only requested the use of an “activity area,” so the QMC management designated the covered court as their venue for the rally.
Belmonte, on Tuesday, November 30, also sent a public invitation to Defensor to discuss the use of the venue in a meeting at city hall on Thursday.
Belmonte confirmed no meeting took place because Defensor withdrew his reservation request on Wednesday.
The city mayor also said she does not understand how the offer to use the covered gymnasium – the same one used by presidential aspirants Christopher “Bong” Go and Isko Moreno – was considered discrimination.
“I think the Honorable Congressman does not understand that in fact, it is an act of fairness to offer the same venue to all politicians. It is also the practical venue because it is a closed venue and we can control the entry and exit of people,” she told Rappler on Thursday.
The Defensor camp, in press releases, has pointed out that Liwasang Aurora was used by 2016 presidential and vice presidential aspirants Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo.
Belmonte was vice mayor at the time, and there was no COVID-19 yet. – Rappler.com