Sara Duterte, Uniteam Senate bets show up for Gloria Arroyo’s birthday rally

PAMMANGA, Philippines – Vice presidential candidate Davao City mayor Sara Duterte, the ruling Pineda clan of Pampanga, several senatorial bets, and a crowd of 9,000 came to greet former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday, April 4, the eve of her 75th birthday .

Lubao information officer Albert Lacanlale described the gathering for Macapagal-Arroyo as a “meet and greet.”

But it looked like a campaign event, with most of the audience wearing the red and green colors of Uniteam presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr and running mate Duterte.

Marcos was not around. Asked about his absence, Duterte said: “It’s our break day today so supposedly wala kaming schedule ngayon but merong invitation galing sa Pampanga so pinaunlakan namin.”

(We didn’t have a schedule today but there was an invitation from Pampanga, and we accepted it.)

Duterte joined Lakas-CMD, the former president’s party, on November 11, 2021. Shortly after, she filed her certificate of candidacy for the vice presidential race.

Aside from Duterte, Governor Delta Pineda, Vice Governor Lilia “Nanay” Pineda, Pampanga 2nd District Representative Mikey Arroyo, and Lubao Mayor Esmie Pineda shared the stage with Macapagal-Arroyo.

Also present were the Uniteam senatorial bets Herbert Bautista, Dante Marcoleta, Jinggoy Estrada, Gibo Teodoro, Gringo Honasan, Mark Villar, Larry Gadon, Win Gachalian, Loren Legarda, and Sal Panelo. Audrey Zubiri represented her husband Sen. Migz Zubiri.

The Pinedas did not speak. The senate bets all spoke briefly, just introducing themselves to the crowd.

The birthday celebrant gave a short message of thanks for the support of her cabalen.

Every year naman dito ang birthday celebration ko (I always celebrate my birthday here),” said Macapagal-Arroyo, who is running unopposed for her old 2nd District seat.

“I appreciate that they are here. Of course, it’s an election year, so my wish is for our candidates to win,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

POWER CHAT. Davao City mayor and Uniteam vice presidential bet Sara Duterte whispers to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Pampanga 2nd district representative Mikey Arroyo, Vice Governor Lilia Pineda and senatorial aspirant Robin Padilla look on. (Joann Manabat)

Duterte spoke for around 20 minutes. She reminded voters to bring sample ballots with the names of all Uniteam senators on May 9, election day.

“Boboto po tayo ng board members, konsehal, senators. Napakaraming pangalan ang kailangan nating isaulo kaya dapat dala-dala natin ang kodigo natin para mas madaling bumoto,” she said.

(We’ll be voting for board members, councilors, senators. We’ll need to memorize so many names so it’s better to bring a list to make it easier to vote.)

The vice presidential candidate said the Uniteam’s goal is, “pera sa bulsa at pagkain sa lamesa ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino”. (Money in the pocket and food on the table of every Filipino family.)

A Uniteam government, she said, would not rely on lockdowns, a main feature of the pandemic management response of her father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Sinasabi namin na hindi dapat nilalockdown ang trabaho at negosyo ng mga tao. Tuloy-tuloy lang ang pagbubukas ng ating komunidad, ang ating trabaho, tuloy tuloy ang pagbubukas ng ating ekonomiya, ng ating bansa,” Sarah said.

(We shouldn’t impose lockdowns that affect the jobs and business of people. We should continue opening up our communities, our workplaces, our economy, and our country.)

The government, she stressed, has already rolled out key pandemic actions proposed by health experts: vaccines, the drug Molnupiravir for COVID-19 patients who need it, and normalizing the wearing of masks.

The next key tasks should be regaining the jobs and livelihoods lost during the pandemic, said the Davao mayor.

She also campaigned for the missing Marcos, citing his four terms as governor of Ilocos Norte, one term as congressman and one term as senator.

That experience will help him with the problem-solving and decision-making jobs of the presidency, Sara said in Filipino. – Rappler.com

Joann Manabat is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.

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