2022 PH presidential race

More political groups switching to Leni, say Mindanao mayor, congressmen

Herbie Gomez
More political groups switching to Leni, say Mindanao mayor, congressmen

Thousands turned out for the Camanava Rock and Rosas rally for presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan. Some of the country's most influential local bands and artists volunteered to perform for the Leni-Kiko tandem during the event held at the Notre Dame of Greater Manila open field in Caloocan City on Saturday, March 26, 2022.

Photo by VP Leni Media Bureau

Agusan del Norte Representative Lawrence Fortun says the declarations of support show politicians 'heeding their good conscience and putting the interest of the country first'

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Two congressmen and a mayor behind the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo in two Mindanao regions said they were anticipating more local political groups declaring their support for her candidacy between now and election day.

The groups won’t necessarily be political allies and may even be working to outsmart each other at the local levels, but their support for Robredo “is going to be a welcome development,” said Mayor Oscar Moreno of Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao.

Moreno was the first local chief executive in Mindanao to openly declare his support for Robredo after she filed her certificate of candidacy for the presidency in October 2021. 

Robredo’s running mate Senator Francis Pangilinan joined Moreno when the mayor launched his campaign for Misamis Oriental’s gubernatorial post in Balingasag town on Friday, March 25. Moreno served as governor for nine years until his election as Cagayan de Oro mayor in 2013.

Moreno’s 2016 rival in Cagayan de Oro’s mayoral race, Representative Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro’s 2nd District, told Rappler that he too expected more declarations of support for Robredo from big names in local politics in the coming days. 

“They will see Leni as the only hope for a better tomorrow for our country,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez was among those who declared support for Robredo during the March 21 launch of the Robredo-Sara Duterte (RoSA) campaign in Cagayan de Oro that was initiated by Albay 2nd District Joey Salceda. 

Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, who joined Rodriguez and Salceda during the launch, said, “We pray for more support por amor de Dios y Filipinas (for the love of God and the Philippines)!”

Since 2016, Rodriguez and Moreno have not been seeing eye to eye, and the congressman is now supporting Gingoog City Vice Mayor Peter Unabia, one of Moreno’s two rivals for the gubernatorial post.

Moreno said he was “okay” with Rodriguez’s declaration of support for Robredo.

Meanwhile, RoSa-Northern Mindanao announced on Saturday that Misamis Oriental gubernatorial candidate Representative Juliette Uy of the province’s 2nd District and her Team Unity ticket have also decided to support Robredo.

Uy and Moreno are rivals in this year’s gubernatorial race in Misamis Oriental.

Uy could not be reached for comment as of this posting, but her group is scheduled to hold a news conference on Sunday afternoon to make a formal announcement and explain the group’s decision.

RoSa-Northern Mindanao said Uy will be joined by her husband Julio, a former vice governor running for congressman in the 2nd District of Misamis Oriental, 1st District congressional candidate Karen Lagbas, and many of the province’s town mayors.

In the neighboring Caraga region, Agusan del Norte 1st District Representative Lawrence Fortun said he was anticipating “more and more local leaders mustering the resolve to be on the right side of history.”

He said there were already talks about several officials in Caraga contemplating going public about their support for Robredo.

Fortun said there have been indications of a “real remarkable groundswell” across Mindanao and elsewhere in the country.

Robredo, he said, was “turning out to be, after deep reflection of local political leaders, the only best choice among all candidates for the presidency.”

He cited the announcement of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Reporma to switch sides – from presidential candidate Senator Panfilo Lacson to Robredo – in Davao del Norte on March 24.

“The recent declarations of support are not mere cases of politicians sensing and following the pulse of the people, but essentially, heeding their good conscience and putting the interest of the country first,” Fortun told Rappler.

He added, “The snowball will continue as more leaders take the side of honest, inclusive, transparent, accountable, and efficient governance and support the candidate that not only espouses but already has a clear track record of living and pursuing these principles.”

Rodriguez called Alvarez and Reforma’s shift as a big boost to Robredo’s candidacy. 

“The bandwagon for Leni is now rolling big and fast! The mammoth crowds in her rallies show the people’s support for her from all sectors,” said Rodriguez. – with reports from Frencie Carreon/Rappler.com

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