GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Facing thousands of their rain-soaked supporters who dared to come together in enemy territory, presidential bet and Vice President Leni Robredo and running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan made an appeal in General Santos City: Knock on doors and help increase our numbers.
On Tuesday, March 15, the Leni-Kiko tandem barnstormed in Mindanao for the third time since the official campaign period started in February, in a bid to woo more voters in the region where they are weakest, based on major pre-election polls.
The leading partnership of the late dictator’s son and presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte consider the island of Mindanao as their bailiwick. In fact, Robredo lost to Marcos in many parts of Mindanao in the 2016 vice presidential race, which she eventually won by a thin margin nationwide.
This was the first time for the Leni-Kiko tandem to campaign in the Soccsksargen region, homecourt of another presidential candidate, boxing legend turned senator Manny Pacquiao.
So it was not surprising then that when Robredo faced the “Kakampink” crowd in GenSan, she asked them to continue practicing “radical love” to convince more people to vote the Leni-Kiko tandem.
Despite being the home turf of Pacquiao, GenSan still delivered for Robredo, with an estimated 5,000 to 7,000-strong crowd cheering their lungs out for her on Tuesday evening. Supporters were soaked due to the intermittent rain, but they stayed until the end of the program.
“Tinatawag ko po kayo ngayon: Lumabas tayo sa ating nakasanayan”. Pagkatapos po nating tumindig: Tumawid tayo. Hanapin ang hindi pa kabilang sa ating hanay. Araw-araw, kumausap ng mga tao at kumatok sa mga pinto, pakinggan ang mga kuwento ng kapwa, makiisa sa mga nagdurusa,” said Robredo.
(I am calling you now to do this: Get out of our comfort zones. After making a stand, it’s time to cross over. Look for those who are not part of our ranks yet. Every day, talk to people and knock on their doors, listen to their stories, be one in their sufferings.)
The lone female presidential candidate urged her Kakapinks to work harder to convince the least and the lost to join their ranks.
“Huminto para sa mga nadarapa, at hatakin natin sila patayo dala ang ating mensahe: Iisa ang pinagdadaanan natin, iisa ang laban natin, iisa ang mga pangarap natin. At ang landas tungo sa mga pangarap na ito: Gobyernong tapat sa tungkulin, tapat sa prinsipyo, tapat sa pinaglilingkurang Pilipino,” said Robredo.
(Stop for those who stumble, help them stand up and bring with you our message: We are going through the same thing, we are fighting the same fight, we have the same dreams. And the way to achieve these dreams is through this: A government that is honest, principled, and transparent to the Filipinos it serves.)
In the latest Pulse Asia survey done in February, the Leni-Kiko tandem still lags behind the frontrunners. Marcos, with a 60% voter preference rating, still maintained the top spot in the presidential contest. Robredo is a distant second at 15%, a one-percentage drop from January.
Marcos’ running mate Duterte is still leading the vice-presidential race with 53%, followed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III at 24%. Pangilinan trails behind them in third place with 11%.
While the Leni-Kiko tandem take these surveys seriously, they are unbothered by their numbers for now. They believe the surveys have yet to capture their growing momentum from their huge rallies attended by tens of thousands of Kakapinks across the provinces these past few weeks.
Pangilinan: ‘Let’s talk to the undecided’
Robredo’s appeal to reach out to more voters was echoed by her running mate Pangilinan in his own speech, noting how many Filipinos today continue to believe in the disinformation saturating people’s feeds from all over social media.
Opposition figures like Pangilinan and Robredo, in particular, are among the primary targets of black propaganda online.
“Dalhin natin sa kanila ang katotohanan. Kaya ba natin ‘yun? Dito sa General Santos, pupunta tayo sa mga bahay-bahay, kakatok tayong volunteers. Kakausapin natin ang mga ‘di pa kumbinsido at ipapaliwanag natin sa kanila,” said Pangilinan.
(Let’s bring the truth to them. Can we do that? Here in General Santos, let us go to each house, knock on their doors as volunteers. Let’s talk to the undecided and explain to them.)
“Ano ang katotohanan? At ang katotohanan ay: Kinakailangan nating iluklok ang isang tapat, isang matino, isang mahusay na tamabalan, ‘yan ang tambalang Leni-Kiko!” he added.
(What is the truth? That truth is this: We need to elect a tandem that is honest, decent, and excellent, and that is the Leni-Kiko tandem!)
One of the biggest challenges to the Robredo campaign are the intense disinformation networks by the Marcoses and incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte that have been targeting her the past six years.
These lies have greatly influenced the way Filipinos think of Robredo, whose image problems run counter to her corrupt-free track record as well as her well-praised anti-poverty and pandemic response programs.
‘We can win this election’
Kakampinks in Soccsksargen, however, are unfazed by the numbers so far.
Wenar Corpuz Katug, a member of the T’Boli tribe who traveled all the way from Maitum town in Sarangani province to attend the GenSan rally, told Rappler he has faith that Robredo would win in the 2022 elections.
A municipal coordinator for volunteer groups for Robredo, Kat argued Robredo is the most qualified among all those seeking the presidency due to her sincerity and clean track record.
Pacquiao may be Soccsksargen’s hometown favorite, but Katug believes it is not yet his time for president. He also threw a jab at Marcos without directly referencing the atrocities committed by his family during the Martial Law years imposed by family patriarch, the deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“Hindi po malakas si BBM tsaka si Sir Manny kasi hindi pa po panahon para kay Sir Manny. At tsaka kay BBM po – mahirap po manira – kasi yung kailangan po nating presidente yung malinis, walang criminal case, walang civil case. At at tsaka yung ginagawa po nila is mind conditioning. Iniiba po nila ‘yung mga isip ng tao,’ said Katug.
(BBM isn’t strong and I don’t think it’s Sir Manny’s time yet. And for BBM – I don’t want to attack him – but we need a president who is clean, with no criminal or civil case. And what his family is doing is mind conditioning.
RJV Gatchalian, a member of Youth for Leni, also believes young people like him would be key in securing a victory for Robredo in May.
“As you can see, mababa kami sa survey, but the people are moving,” said Gatchalian. ‘Young survey na ‘yun is just one indication, but malayo-layo pa naman ang May 9, and with the youth behind VP Leni, we can win this election.”
(As you can see, we are low in the surveys, but people are moving. That survey is just one indication, but May 9 is still far away, and with the youth behind VP Leni, we can win this election.) – Rappler.com