ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco on Tuesday afternoon, March 29, briefly exchanged pleasantries with presidential candidate former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at the airport before he and his entourage left the city after a campaign rally.
Marcos did not pay Climaco, a supporter of presidential bet Vice President Leni Robredo, a courtesy call at city hall.
Climaco, who has repeatedly called Marcos her friend, came just as the ex-senator was about to leave. She and Marcos served in Congress together.
She wore a green face mask and a red cap with the marking “Marines,” colors associated with the tandem of Marcos and his running mate Davao Mayor Sara Duterte.
Duterte skipped the UniTeam’s Zamboanga City sortie because of a conflict in her schedule.
There was a sudden change in schedules, said Jaydrick Yap, coordinator for Mindanao of the Ituloy and Pagbabago Movement (IPM) that supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter.
Zamboanga City information officer Sheila Covarrubias said Climaco had no appointment with Marcos at city hall.
Climaco, however, decided to see Marcos during the send-off at the airport.
“All candidates are welcome in Zamboanga City,” she said.
Climaco earlier declared her support for Robredo and even joined the vice president on stage during her rally at the Cesar C. Climaco Freedom Park. She wore a pink t-shirt and face mask – the color associated with the Robredo ticket’s campaign – during the “Kakampink” rally.
The mayor was in pink again later when she joined representatives Joey Salceda of Albay and Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro in launching the Robredo-Sara (Duterte) or RoSa campaign to elect the two women as the top two leaders of the country.
Many came to see Marcos and other candidates during the rally at the Universidad de Zamboanga Summit Center. Except for the bleachers, the facility that can accommodate 10,000 people, was packed.
The crowd cheered and repeatedly chanted “BBM” throughout the rally.
Marcos thanked Zamboangueños for their warm welcome from the airport to the UZ Summit Center.
IPM members earlier gathered at the Roseller T. Lim Boulevard to show their support for the UniTeam, but many of them skipped the rally when they realized that Duterte did not come.
An IPM member, Efren Inclan said, “Bueno man quel jende sila junto, para si anda si Sara, solo lang tamen le (Perhaps, it’s good that they [Marcos and Sara] were not together, so that when Sara comes, she will also be alone).
Two warring local political groups joined Marcos on separate occasions during the former senator’s Zamboanga sortie.
Lobregat is running for mayor again, and the other group has fielded John Dalipe as mayoral bet.
Lobregat’s group joined Marcos in the rally while Dalipe’s group took part in his motorcade around the city.
“I think BBM needs all parties as much as possible. They don’t want to interfere at the local level,” IPM’s Yap said.
Marcos, however, raised Climaco’s hand during the rally. – Rappler.com
Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao journalist and an Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.