LILOAN, Southern Leyte — Top local executives of the province yesterday vowed a landslide win for Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) vice presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and the entire UniTeam led by Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) presidential hopeful Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
This, as the Lakas-CMD chairperson barnstormed the Visayas on the third day of her ‘Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas’ caravan, visiting this province which is considered as “Duterte Country” or bailiwick.
Leading local officials showed Southern Leyte’s overwhelming support for the phenomenal meal BBM-Sara tandem during the first stop of the caravan on Liloan Baywalk at Seaside View, Liloan. Sourthern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado considers Mayor Duterte as one of their own.
“Sara is also from Southern Leyte because we know that President Digong was born in [Maasin City] Southern Leyte and stayed in Southern Leyte, that’s why we feel Sara is our kababayan also,” Mercado said.
“Of course [we are supporting BBM-Sara], kami dito sa probinsiya we are supporting Sara and the UniTeam, including BBM,” the governor stressed.
Vice Gov. Christopherson “Coco” Yap said at least 18 mayors from Southern Leyte have declared full support for Mayor Duterte and Marcos in May 9 elections.
Yap further spoke of the Duterte family’s roots in the province, which have been prominent for over a century.
“Very historical ang pagdating ni Mayor Sara dito sa Liloan. Iyung stop niya dito will bring back memories of her family from the Roa side. Mayor Eleno Roa was the mayor [from] 1911 to 1912 here in Liloan, Southern Leyte,” he said.
“Local leaders [are here] and the people of Southern Leyte because their (Dutertes) roots are from here, from our place. Yes [this is Duterte country]. Technically from Maasin [City], the Roa side, and here (Liloan) also the Roa side of the family, their roots are from here in Liloan and Panaon Island,” he further said.
Mercado and Yap are members of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which the lady mayor’s father President Duterte chairs.
Mayor Duterte was most appreciative of the local chief executives open and unanimous support for BBM-Sara.
In a short yet meaningful speech, Duterte thanked the officials led by Gov. Mercado, Yap and Mayor Mercado as well as the local residents for their warmest welcome.
Mayor Duterte echoed the importance of patriotism and love of country throughout the caravan.
She installed a Philippine flag at the location before going to her second main stopover.
One of the local chief executives, Maasin City Mayor Nacional “Nikko” Mercado, said Southern Leyte will deliver a “landslide win” for BBM-Sara.
“Southern Leyte province and the city of Maasin fully support the vice presidential bid of Mayor Inday Sara and this (Thursday) morning together with Governor Damian Mercado, Vice Governor Christoperson Yap, 18 mayors from  municipalities and one city, we are one and we are here to fully support the UniTeam BBM-Sara,” Mayor Mercado said.
“As I stated, we fully support the…bid of presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. and Vice President Inday Sara together with all their senatorial line-up…We are solid and we are behind [them] and we will campaign because we fully understand that they are here to help us, especially that President Duterte was born in Maasin City. We can’t turn our backs on the Dutertes,” added Mayor Mercado.
Southern Leyte roughly has 350,000 to 400,000 registered voters, with Maasin accounting for 58,800 of the figure.
The Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas caravan has six scheduled stopovers Thursday.
From Liloan, Duterte dropped by before afternoon at the Kap-anan ni Epyang, Sogod, Southern Leyte to meet the parallel groups led by Yap supporting the BBM-Sara UniTeam.
At 12:30 in the afternoon, Duterte met the mayors of the 5th District in Mahaplag, Leyte.
Duterte’s afternoon schedule included visiting the BBM-SARA MASADA Headquarters in Tacloban City; attending the gathering of Tacloban City local officials and key leaders of parallel groups at the Yolanda Commemorative Memorial, Tacloban Convention Center with Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez; and a stopover at the BBM-Sara UniTeam Regional Headquarters at the Community Center on Real St., Tacloban St. beside Tingog party-list headquarters where she is expected to receive a rousing welcome from House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, Lakas-CMD president and Duterte’s campaign manager. With Jester Manalastas