SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — A throng of 30,000 people welcomed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and her 13 Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) senatorial bets at the Provincial Capitol here, firing off what is seen as an administration juggernaut in the 13 May midterm elections.
Another big crowd met the HnP slate in another event at the nearby ASEAN Convention Center at Clarkfield, Angeles in what the political leaders of the administration slate called “a portent of things to come” to the field supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The opposition team of Liberal Party and allied bets called “Otso Diretso” as it could only field eight candidates held a motorcade and house-to-house campaign in Caloocan City while its main candidate Mar Roxas held his own sortie in his hometown Capiz in Western Visayas.
The other candidates outside of the two main political parties also established their own campaign in various forms, including the less-known hopefuls who used various forms of social media in the hopes of gaining a wider reach and more ground.
But it was only the HnP which was able to launch a full-packed and solid team in Pampanga which Duterte-Carpio acknowledged for helping her father, President Duterte, win the country’s top leadership in 2016.
An almost full list of HnP candidates was also present, with Duterte-Carpio raising each and everyone’s hand for her endorsement, led by former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Duterte-Carpio also made official her endorsement of former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino and Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel IV, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Cynthia Villar and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.
There will be 110 events for HnP in the 90-day campaign period.
Pimentel was represented by his wife, Kathryna Yu-Pimentel, in the affair.
Also receiving the Davao City mayor’s support were Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., Maguindanao Rep. Dong Mangudadatu, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano and former broadcast journalist Jiggy Manicad.
Duterte-Carpio explained Pampanga helped in her father’s 2016 victory, a reason why they chose the province as the regional party’s first stop.
There will be 110 events for HnP during the 90-day campaign period, the HnP leader said. Luzon stops will be prioritized before the team makes campaign legs in the Visayas and then in Mindanao.
“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who welcomed us,” she said.
She added she did not ask for the President’s presence in the kick-off as she understands the weight of his job as the country’s leader.
She also expressed hope the people can see the President’s advocacy for positive change through their party’s senatorial bets, saying they possess the experience, track record and willingness to serve.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a representative of the province, vowed to lead her folks in giving the HnP bets a landslide victory.
Go, the top bet of HnP, introduced his platforms starting with the legislation of the Magna Carta for Barangay Officials which will regularize local officials and will add one more year to their terms.
He said he will bring the President’s campaign against corruption, criminality and drugs in the Senate.
“I will continue what President Duterte has started,” Go said.
He also vowed to continue the setting up of Malasakit Centers to provide easy access to medical services.
Go added affordable housing, free tuition and fire protection program are among his advocacies.
Ejercito, after his efforts to pass the Universal Health Care Bill, also vowed to help the province build more infrastructure and get more transportation development projects.
The other HnP candidates also laid out their plans in seeking the votes of the large crowd that gathered for them.
The audience cheered the side show provided by half-brothers Sen. JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada who raised his sibling’s hand in a display of unity.
Ejercito had left his father, former President and re-electionist Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s political party Partido ng Masang Pilipino to express his opposition to political dynasties.
Ejercito is now with the Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Opposition candidates, meanwhile, toured Caloocan City and knocked on doors and met bystanders in the city considered as one of Metro Manila’s fringe areas with at least 650,000 voters.
Survey topper and reelectionist Sen. Grace Poe kicked off her bid among school children in a feeding program in Payatas, Quezon City.
Sen. Nancy Binay, on the other hand, launched her senatorial campaign with a motorcade from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and was joined by Angara, former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and senatorial candidate Dan Roleda.
Bayan Muna chairman and Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares fired off his senatorial bid by entertaining senior citizens at a breakfast in Barangay Old Balara, Quezon City.
Other senatorial hopefuls like former Senators Lito Lapid and Serge Osmeña, lawyer Larry Gadon, former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairman Leody de Guzman launched their respective bids on various social media platforms.
with Mario J. Mallari and Elmer N. Manuel