MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Philippines – Misamis Oriental candidate for governor and 2nd District Representative Juliette Uy, along with nearly a dozen incumbent mayors and other candidates in the province openly declared their support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo and vice presidential bet Davao Mayor Sara Duterte on Sunday afternoon, March 27.
Uy is the second of Misamis Oriental’s candidates for governor who committed to campaign for Robredo.
The first was Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno who, like Uy, launched on Friday his campaign for the governorship, a seat he held for nine years before his election as city mayor in 2013.
Uy, a member of the National Unity Party (NUP), was joined by her husband Julio, a former vice governor of the province, in a press conference called to make the announcement. Julio is running for congressman in the 2nd District.
Behind the Uys were 24 mayoral candidates in Misamis Oriental, including 11 incumbent local chief executives, and 1st District congressional candidate Karen Lagbas.
“Finally, we can declare what we wanted to say all along, that we are behind Vice President Leni Robredo,” said Lagbas.
A group of barangay officials also came to declare their support for Robredo.
The Uy family-led Hugpong Panaghiusa (Team Unity) said it would also support the vice presidential bid of Sara Duterte.
Blurred party lines
“The situation is abnormal, and party lines have been blurred. The candidates are all good, but we go for Leni Robredo because of her integrity,” said Julio Uy, the leader of the NUP in Misamis Oriental.
He said his group was being consistent, pointing out that they supported Robredo in 2016 when she ran for vice president against the late dictator’s son, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Juliette said the NUP leadership allowed her and her group in the province to choose their top bets.
“They (Robredo and Duterte) are both lawyers. Both are credible,” she said.
The congresswoman said she won’t be happy supporting another presidential candidate other than Robredo.
“I know her. We traveled together. We shared one room. She is a simple and virtuous woman, and hard-working,” she said.
Uy’s daughter, Villanueva Mayor Jennie Mendez, said the years of a smear campaign against Robredo was a test of her character and patience.
“She is deserving of our support,” Mendez said.
Former vice governor Joey Pelaez, Representative Uy’s running mate, called the group’s decision a “principled choice.”
“We are choosing not based on popularity, but on what is right and good for the country,” said Pelaez.
He expressed exasperation at the lies, historical distortions, and Robredo’s character assassination on social media which, he said, factored in their group’s decision. – with reports from Herbie Gomez/Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship