Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler
ILOILO, Philippines – He has yet to top major opinion polls while his running mate has yet to gain substantial lead over her nearest rival.
Yet, Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II said that as the official campaign period ends this weekend, the momentum is on their side.
Speaking to reporters at the Iloilo airport on Tuesday, May 3, Roxas attributed this partly to the "worry" over recent issues hurled against survey front runner Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte, who is 10 to 12 percentage points away from nearest rival Senator Grace Poe, has been embroiled in controversies in the final weeks of the campaign.
He triggered public outcry after he joked about the rape of a murdered Australian missionary back in 1989. This did not affect his poll numbers in surveys held after the statement; Duterte remained in the lead.
Last week, the longtime Davao mayor has had to deal with allegations that he kept secret millions in a bank account. Duterte initially denied owning the account, but later acknowledged its existence. He did, however, say the account only contained tens of thousands and not hundreds of millions, as independent vice presidential candidate Senator Antonio Trillanes IV alleged.
"Napagdaanan na natin ito nung panahon nung diktaturya," Roxas said, referring to the allegations against Duterte.
Roxas and his running mate Leni Robredo are in Iloilo on Tuesday for the first in a series of big rallies to cap the 2016 campaign period.
The latest surveys put Roxas in a statistical tie with presidential candidate Grace Poe. Robredo, meanwhile, trails front runner Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Taking another dig at his rivals, Roxas urged voters to scrutinize candidates' plans for the country. "Pinapakiusap ko po sa inyo: Huwag po nating isugal sa baka sakali. Huwag po nating isugal sa 'ah, basta.' Huwag po nating isugal sa 'pagkatiwalaan mo nalang.' Eh wala namang plano, wala namang ipinapakitang paraan para isakatuparan itong mga plano para sa ating bansa, kung ano man ‘yo," he said.
Iloilo, hometown of LP vice chairman and Senate President Franklin Drilon, is considered a bailiwick of the ruling party and of Roxas, who hails from nearby Negros Occidental and Capiz.
The province has more than 1 million registered voters for 2016. – Rappler.com