CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Two opposing major political groups in Cagayan de Oro agree on one thing: Leni Robredo.
“I’ve gone through many crossroads in my life, especially in public service, but there are periods in a person’s life that you have to make a decision based on your conscience and sense of duty,” said Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno.
His 2016 challenger, Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez, declared his support for Robredo, too, on Sunday, March 13, saying he and his group wanted to be “on the right side of history.”
Rodriguez and Moreno have not been seeing eye to eye and have been criticizing each other since 2016 when the estranged political allies clashed in a three-cornered mayoral race that included the late former mayor Vicente Emano. Moreno defeated Rodriguez and Emano to secure a second term that year.
But while they are one in their support for Robredo, Rodriguez and Moreno have been working for the election of two warring mayoral bets.
Rodriguez has been helping former Phividec Industrial Estate Authority administrator Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña in his mayoral bid while the outgoing mayor has thrown his support for Cagayan de Oro 1st District Representative Rolando “Klarex” Uy’s bid to become his successor.
Rodriguez has also allied with the PaDayon Pilipino party of Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano that is trying to block Moreno’s efforts to reclaim the gubernatorial post. It’s a position which the mayor held for nine years before his election in Cagayan de Oro in 2013.
Emano, who is running for congressman in Misamis Oriental’s 2nd District, and Rodriguez are supporting the gubernatorial bid of Gingoog City Vice Mayor Peter Unabia against Moreno.
But unlike Rodriguez, Emano and Unabia have yet to declare who among the presidential candidates they would be supporting.
“It’s still being discussed. It’s still undeclared,” said provincial board member Gerardo Sabal III, a member of the Emano-led PaDayon Pilipino.
Rodriguez said he was working to convince his allies in the PaDayon Pilipino into joining him in supporting Robredo whom he called “the best choice for our country and children.”
Moreno, for his part, is the first local chief executive in Mindanao to publicly declare his support for Robredo’s presidential bid right after she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) last October.
Moreno, a known supporter of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, filed his COC for Misamis Oriental governor days earlier under the Cebu-based Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives (Promdi), a party that fielded Senator Manny Pacquiao as a presidential candidate.
He said his decision could result in resentment in the Promdi, and he could be expelled from the party.
“I hope they understand that I am just following my heart and my belief,” Moreno said.
Moreno told Rappler he didn’t expect Robredo to seek the presidency when he filed his COC.
“This is not disrespecting anyone, but this is an exercise of my right and freedom. We need to go through a stage of discernment. After the elections, what will happen? I’ve thought about that. The country will be in better hands under Vice President Leni Robredo,” Moreno said.
Incidentally, Uy, Moreno’s preferred successor, has been gravitating toward presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. although people in his inner circle and those surrounding him are mostly Robredo supporters. – Rappler.com