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CAVITE, Philippines - Scrutinize your candidates and scrutinize us.
This was the message of President Benigno Aquino III to Caviteños on Thursday, February 7, when he visited the Maranatha Christian Academy for a Liberal Party (LP) event, "Alay sa Mamamayan."
Aquino was joined by his senatorial candidates Bam Aquino and Risa Hontiveros, as well as LP stalwarts Manuel "Mar" Roxas and Emilio "Jun" Abaya. Sen Ping Lacson, a key ally, was also present. Both Abaya and Lacson are from Cavite.
Cavite has about 1.6 million voters, one of the highest in the country. In the 2010 presidential elections, Aquino topped the polls here, garnering about half a million votes in a 10-way race.
The President took potshots at rival candidates and subtly hit Sen Ramon "Bong" Revilla, a Caviteño who is being groomed by the Lakas-CMD as its 2016 presidential bet. Revilla's son Jolo is running for vice governor against Lacson's son Jay.
"We are here to make sure the reforms we have accomplished will not go to waste," he said. "Your choices are simple: one route is of self-serving leaders… while the other is tuwid na daan." Then he added: "May mga nakikisakay… nakikisuot ng dilaw… Wag po tayo umasa sa tiyamba, sa agimat o sa anting-anting," he said. (There are those who are riding on our reform agenda...wearing yellow. But don't rely on chances or charm or amulets.)
A Lakas-CMD stalwart last week said Revilla, a movie actor, has a good chance in 2016 since he is the only senator with "agimat" (amulet or charm).
Aquino took the opportunity to promote LP's candidate for governor of Cavite, incumbent 3rd district Rep Erineo "Ayong" Maliksi. Maliksi was governor from 2001 to 2010.
The LP provincial ticket is up against the well-entrenched Remulla-Revilla clans. Incumbent Gov Jonvic Remulla is running for re-election, and his running mate is Revilla's son Jolo.
Aquino praised Maliksi in his speech, saying during his term as governor, Cavite became one of the fastest growing provinces in the nation. He also credited Maliksi for the drop of Cavite's poverty incidence.
But Maliksi also has his share of controversy. The 71-year-old is the subject of a complaint before the Ombudsman for allegedly misspending -- when he was governor -- funds meant for the relocation of families that would be affected by the construction of the Light Rail Transit extension from Pasay City to Cavite.
While Aquino did not personally endorse Hontiveros and his cousin Bam, the two were given their own time on stage to speak to Caviteños and promote their platforms.
The younger Aquino talked about his experience working with entrepreneurs, and said it is his goal to help Filipinos in provinces start their own small businesses, among other opportunities.
"Alam mo ang Pilipino magaling, matalino, masipag, may kakahayan, world class, kulang lang ng pagkakataon," he said.
Hontiveros for her part, talked about her ties to Cavite, announcing her mother is from Rosario. She called herself a "true Caviteño."
She said past causes she has fought for, such as the passage of the Reproductive Health bill and the decrease of prices of medicines, are all part of her efforts to pursue the "tuwid na daan" of the President.
"Alay sa Mamamayan" is a project launched by the President which focuses on rural poverty alleviation and addresses basic needs of Caviteños like food security, education, health, and livelihood. - Rappler.com
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