MANILA, Philippines – In what she called another “emotional visit” to Masbate, Vice President Leni Robredo cited her strong connection to the province where her husband Jesse died in a plane crash nearly 10 years ago, not far from where her campaign rally was held on Wednesday, April 13.
Robredo addressed tens of thousands of supporters gathered along the J.M. Robredo Boulevard in Masbate City, a road named after the late interior secretary. Prior to her speech, a brief ceremony was held in honor of Jesse.
“Bawat bisita ko sa Masbate ay isang emotional na visit para sa akin. Lalong-lalo na, ang venue ng ating rally ngayon dito at sa Robredo Boulevard…. Alam ninyo na dito namatay ang asawa ko. At kaya ang boulevard na ito Robredo Boulevard, dahil napakalapit lang ng crash site,” she said.
(Every visit to Masbate is an emotional visit for me. Especially as the venue of our rally is Robredo Boulevard…. You know that my husband died here. And this boulevard was named Robredo Boulevard because it’s close to the crash site.)
“Kaya ’yung sa akin po, ang connection ko sa inyo parang laging pamilya. Bawat punta ko dito sa Masbate, para akong umuuwi sa bahay dahil alam ko na dito binawian ng buhay ang aking asawa,” Robredo said.
(For me, I feel that my connection to you is you’re like family. Every time I come to Masbate, it’s like I’m coming home because I know that my husband lost his life here.)
Jesse, serving as the interior secretary of then-president Benigno Aquino III, died in a plane crash off Masbate on August 18, 2012, along with two pilots of the light plane.
Robredo also spoke about her special bond with Masbate while addressing local officials at City Hall after the rally. She said that even after his remains were retrieved in Masbate waters and they brought him home to Naga, “parang pakiramdam ko nandito pa din siya sa dagat ng Masbate (I feel as if he remained in the sea of Masbate).”
Paralegal formation program
The presidential candidate shared in her rally speech that she used to work in Masbate for the paralegal formation program of development and humanitarian organization Plan International in communities in Milagros, Mandaon, and Balud from 2005 to 2007.
This is also why, she said, she was well-acquainted with the problems of the province such as natural disasters and also its power outage woes, which she promised to address if she wins in the presidential race.
Robredo said Masbate is rich in natural resources, yet remains among the poorest provinces in the country. She urged the people to reflect on why this is the case, especially now, during elections, when they have a “chance to choose the right public servants.”
In her meeting with local officials after the rally, Robredo said that Masbate City was “like the crown jewel of the province, always known for good governance, innovative programs” but the rich potential of areas outside the city remained untapped.
Among those who joined Vice President at the rally was Masbate 1st District Representative Narciso “Bong” Bravo Jr., who is running against Governor Antonio “Tony” Kho, a reelectionist. Kho has endorsed the presidential bid of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The presidential aspirant also hoped that she would get the support of Masbate voters not just because she hailed from Bicol but because they want to join her in her fight to put the government in order.
Miguel Pangilinan’s debut
Vice presidential candidate and Senator Kiko Pangilinan was introduced at the rally by 12-year-old son Miguel Pangilinan, who shyly informed the crowd that it was his first time on stage, at a campaign rally.
“Naglakas-loob (He mustered courage),” the senator said, referring to his son, after the introduction.
Proud Ate Kakie Pangilinan tweeted that her brother had stage fright but tried his best to conquer it to help their dad.
After the rally, Robredo and Pangilinan went to city hall where Masbate City Mayor Rowena Tuason and local officials expressed their support for the tandem. They also met with coordinators and youth volunteers of the Masbate Kaakibat ni Leni Robredo.
Prior to the rally, they met with Masbate Bishop Jose Bantolo, parish priests, other religious leaders, and parishioners at the Liceo de Masbate. – Rappler.com