Duterte allies hit 2019 campaign trail on big bikes
For Sara Duterte, the 2019 campaign season is not just a time to flex political muscle. It’s also a chance to see the country on her two big bikes.
From the early days of the campaign period to its last few weeks, the President’s daughter has grabbed every opportunity to take her motorcycles on a ride from one province to another.
She has at least two motorcycles – Ella, a light silver Yamaha XSR900 (cost according to web search: P580,000), and Sweetheart, a dark grey Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R (cost according to web search: P800,00).
An unlikely sidekick often accompanies her when she burns rubber – a stuffed toy malamute called Elvis which Sara straps to her back. Her adventures with the toy and the Yamaha bike are lovingly documented in a dedicated Instagram account, @ellaandelvis.
Sara took Sweetheart to the Cotabato City rally of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) on Monday, April 21. The ride from Davao City took around 6 hours, according to bikers who accompany the mayor.
“Maganda naman 'yung roads, mayroon lang iilan siguro na kailangan i-repair and medyo mainit talaga (The roads are good, there are just some that need repair and it was really hot),” said Sara about her motorcycle ride that morning.
Coincidentally (or not), there was another avid motorcycle rider in the Cotabato City rally. Jamayel Dumama, running for 1st District of Maguindanao and Cotabato City Representative, showed his campaign video that prominently featured his own big bike.
In the video, Dumama, wearing a denim jacket and leather backpack, takes his flashy motorcycle through Maguindanao villages. Along the way, he shakes hands with people in these rural communities and hugs them, linking his joyride to his "road to public service."
Watch the video here:
When Sara and her beloved bikes hit the road, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) is never far behind. There’s a vehicle that follows Sara, aside from PSG personnel on bikes themselves.
President Duterte’s eldest daughter is flanked by no less than 10 people during any of her rides. Their presence sometimes irks her. In an Instagram post in July 2018, she thanked the PSG for allowing her to go on a solo ride on Ella.
Bringing her bikes on the campaign trail adds to logistical concerns. Someone else rides her bikes from one venue to another when she herself has to use a van to quickly transfer venues.
But the bike rides also allow Sara to meet regular Filipinos. She often stops by churches and other landmarks where she poses for photos with people from various walks of life.
Aside from the ride to Cotabato City, her bikes have hit the campaign trail on other occasions – from Pangasinan to Baguio to La Union from February 14 to 15; from Laoag City in Ilocos Norte to Santiago City in Isabela on February 19; and a 6-hour ride from Catarman, Northern Samar to Tacloban, Leyte on March 19.
Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco has been her riding buddy on some of these trips. Velasco, a family friend of the Dutertes, has been called the “next Speaker” by both Sara and her father. Velasco once celebrated his birthday inside the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse, right next to President Duterte’s Manila residence, Bahay Pangarap.
Duterte-allied senatorial candidate Imee Marcos even capitalized on Sara’s love for bikes in her political advertisement. The ad showed Sara bringing Marcos to a gas station on her Yamaha bike.
Other bike lovers
Sara is not the only big bike rider in the family. President Duterte himself is an enthusiast, once saying he owned a Harley-Davidson, one of the most expensive motorcycle brands.
If Sara likes to hit the campaign trail on a motorcycle, Duterte uses his campaign speeches to reminisce about his days on big bikes.
He likes to mention he toured the country on a motorcycle with his road trip buddy, Francis Tolentino, one of his senatorial candidates.
So it's no wonder some motorists raised their eyebrows when Duterte signed a law requiring two license plates for motorcycles.
The measure, intended to prevent crimes aided by motorcycles, was slammed for putting an unnecessary burden on motorcycle drivers. Duterte eventually agreed the law was problematic, recommending some changes.
The issue facing government agencies and lawmakers now is how to incorporate these changes after Duterte had already affixed his signature to the law, limiting what kind of modifications can be made.
There’s another Duterte-backed senatorial bet who likes big bikes. Presidential aide Bong Go amped up the campaign drama when he took his big bike to San Miguel church where he tearfully offered a prayer for his senatorial candidacy.
He used his motorcycle to bring his friend Alan Peter Cayetano to the Commission on Elections headquarters, arriving in style for Cayetano to file his candidacy for Taguig-Pateros representative.
Watch a video of that here:
Go has even “rushed” to fire victims on a motorcycle, making for flashy campaign videos.
Whether it’s a flair for drama or the need for speed – Duterte allies find reason to set loose their big bikes on the campaign trail. – Rappler.com
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