Lakas-CMD vice presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte chats with Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino lll during a courtesy call and short meeting at the Provincial Capitol of Pangasinan. Also in photo are Senator Ronald De La Rosa (left), Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd left) and UniTeam Senatorial Candidate Harry Roque. Photo by VER NOVENO
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – POLITICAL leaders in the province led by reelectionist Gov. Amado ‘Pogi’ Espino III and Pangasinan congressman and gubernatorial candidate Ramon ‘Mon-Mon’ V. Guico III on Saturday endorsed the presidential and vice presidential tandem of former Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, adding Pangasinan to the Solid North’s overwhelming support of the UniTeam candidates.
In backing Marcos and Duterte, key leaders from the vote-rich province of the country have temporarily set aside local politics and party affiliations to rally behind the sure-winner tandem that got the overwhelming approval of Ilocanos during its weeklong campaign in Northern Luzon.
Espino, a stalwart of the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), led provincial officials, including Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil of the National Unity Party (NUP), in welcoming Duterte at the provincial capitol.
Duterte came from a campaign in the neighboring province of La Union where she and Marcos got the support and endorsement of officials led by Gov. Emmanuel ‘Pacoy’ Ortega III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
“Siyempre, kung ano naman, very loyal naman po tayo at the same time kay Presidente (Rodrigo Roa Duterte), siyempre ‘yung programa ng ating President malamang itutuloy rin naman…ng ating mahal na magiging vice president Sara,” Espino said in an interview at the provincial capitol here when asked if his team’s warm welcome to Duterte translates to endorsement.
Asked about the kind of support Pangasinan can commit to Marcos and Duterte, the governor said: “Of course, nandito naman sa Ilocos at siyempre Ilocano speaking dito, hindi na matatanong pa ‘yon.”
“Ilocos province ito, Ilocos region siyempre masasabi mo na rin ‘yon ngayon, (for) BBM-Sara dahil nandito na si Ma’am Sara. Lagi ko naman sinasabi ‘yung anong loyalty ko sa ating Presidente siyempre naibibigay natin sa ating vice president, kay Ma’am Sara at kung saan si Ma’am Sara, nandoon ako siyempre,” Espino added.
For his opponent, Guico, a stalwart of the Nacionalista Party (NP), said a landslide victory for BBM-Sara is imminent in vote-rich Pangasinan, which has almost two million registered voters.
“Regardless of political colors, I think Pangasinan is united for BBM-Sara,” Guico said in a separate ambush interview in Alaminos City before Duterte inaugurated the SARA for VP Alaminos Headquarters.
“Oo, I’m very confident (it’s a landslide)…almost all of our group ‘yung Team Aguila, we are fully supporting the vice presidential bid of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. Lahat po kami full support. Kaya all districts na-represent dito sa event na ito,” Guico also said.
“Pangasinan has almost has two million voters so a lot of our allies have command votes in their respective municipalities and cities. Kaya I’m sure we can deliver a lot for Team UniTeam, kina BBM at Sara,” added the aspiring governor.
In Alaminos City during the inauguration of SARA for VP Alaminos Headquarters, Pangasinan Rep. Christopher V.P. De Venecia and former Pangasinan Rep. Rachael Arenas who is running for Congress this election also assured of BBM-Sara victory in the province.
“We have to ensure bilang isang ka-partido ni Ma’am Inday Sara Duterte at siya ang aming standard-bearer na dapat makapag-deliver din ang Pangasinan for Ma’am Inday, so ‘yan yung i-ensure natin, kakarerin natin and maraming activities po ang Lakas-CMD para kay Ma’am Inday,” de Venecia, a stalwart of Lakas-CMD, said in an interview.
“Sobra tayong excited kasi matagal na natin siyang sinusubaybayan bilang isang mamamayan. Talagang namamangha tayo sa kanya, especially napakagaling na mayor ng Davao na tuwing nandon ako, talagang malinis, very orderly, very progressive at very honored tayo sa Lakas-CMD na siya ang ating chairman at siya ang ating standard-bearer bilang pagka-pangalawang pangulo. So alam naman natin na ang partidong Lakas ay itinaguyod ng aking ama (former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.) kasama si FVR (former President Fidel V. Ramos) at saka si (former Sen. Raul Manglapus).
So nakikita natin na ang susunod na henerasyon ng mga lider ay Lakas-CMD and excited tayo para manindigan at para ikampanya si future vice president Inday Sara Duterte,” de Venecia added.
For her part, Arenas, another Lakas-CMD member, said, “I am very happy for our Vice President Inday Sara Duterte. Pangasinan is united for her, so natutuwa po ako to see all parties gathering together to support Mayor Inday Sara.”
“I’m proud to be here and I’m proud to be not just a supporter, but a friend of our vice president Inday Sara Duterte. Sa nakikita ko solid talaga ang north for BBM-Sara, iyun ang feeling ko when I go around. Solid ang north, solid ang Pangasinan,” Arenas added.
Former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco of the NPC, former Alaminos City Mayor Arthur Celeste, NP, and other Pangasinan local leaders joined the inauguration of the headquarters.
Like Ortega III, Espino temporarily set aside his party membership, the PDP-Laban, under which he is running for reelection as Pangasinan governor, to support the BBM-Sara tandem.
Ortega and Espino were not the only governors in Northern Luzon who belong to other political parties but who have decided to support Marcos and Duterte as they campaign for the Ilocano votes.
Earlier, Isabela Gov. Rodolfo ‘Rodito’ Albano III, a stalwart of PDP-Laban; Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba, a stalwart of NP; and Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc have also endorsed the BBM-Sara tandem and assured their provinces’ votes.
Last Friday, Duterte inaugurated two headquarters of her support groups in La Union, the BASTA SARA GROUP and Marcos Sara Duterte Alliance (MASADA) Headquarters.
Before La Union and Pangasinan, the vice presidential candidate campaigned in Ilocos Sur where the father-and-son leadership of Narvacan City Mayor Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson and Gov. Ryan Luis Singson assured the province’s support to Duterte and Marcos.
Duterte’s presence in Northern Luzon is part of her Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas Ride, a south-north journey that she launched early this month in Davao City to promote patriotism, love and unity.