Despite bad weather, Leyteños and Taclobanons came out in droves over the weekend for UniTeam presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Organizers and police estimated the crowd at the Leyte Grandstand at between 120,000 and 150,000 Saturday.
Meanwhile, Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla on Saturday predicted that Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer would win in the province with 70 to 80 percent of the votes.
While senatorial aspirants Harry Roque, Sherwin Gatchalian, Herbert Bautista, Mark Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Jinggoy Estrada and Robin Padilla joined the huge rally, Duterte spent the day campaigning in the 3rd district of Pangasinan with congressional aspirant Rachel Arenas.
Organizers said the candidates earlier agreed to split up so they could visit more areas and reach out to remote communities ahead of the May 9 polls.
The rally, hosted by House Majority Leader and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats president Martin Romualdez and his wife, Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, looked more like a victory party for Marcos, the organizers said.
In memory of the thousands who lost their lives to super typhoon Yolanda in 2013, singers Dulce, Renz Verano, and Beverly Salviejo sang a solemn version of the national anthem.
Marcos was introduced on stage by Romualdez.
“That’s what I said, the Taclobanons can brave the rains. Despite the downpour, I felt the warm welcome of the people,” Romualdez said.
“It is nice to be home again in Tacloban and to be with you,” he added.
A fireworks display that lasted 35 minutes amid a steady drizzle followed the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer’s speech.
The UniTeam members also met with local officials led by Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and the Tacloban City mayor.
“In a sense, I was not surprised because Bongbong is related to us Leyteños by blood and family origin,” Romualdez said.
Marcos and Romualdez are cousins.
Petilla, who endorsed Marcos earlier, said for the last few weeks they have been going to the grassroots, meeting with barangay officials of the different municipalities and cities to solicit more votes for Marcos.
“We have already endorsed BBM. This is just a rally to reiterate our support. First of all, he is from Leyte. We are regionalistic and we really side with the locals. Endorsing him is not just my decision, all of us here support him,” he said, during a rally they organized for the UniTeam in Baybay, Leyte.
Petilla also reminded the supporters that it was not enough to show their support—they must go out to vote for Marcos on May 9.
“It is good that you are here to show your support even if it is raining. It is also good that you are still convincing your relatives and friends to support BBM. But what is more important is that when May 9 comes, even if it rains, you go out to vote for him,” he said.
The different local government officials of Leyte, from the First District up to the Fifth District also endorsed Marcos during a meet and greet.
Baybay Mayor Jose Carlos “Boeing” L. Cari said they are joining Marcos and his running mate Inday Sara Duterte in promoting their advocacy of unity.
Marcos expressed his elation and gratitude for the strong support shown by the huge throng who filled the Baybay Convention Center complex. Majority of them had been standing under the rain since early morning, waiting for the rally which was set for 10:30 a.m.
“Wave so that the whole Philippines can see that here in Leyte, no one leaves even if it rains,” the presidential frontrunner told the crowd, after spotting a drone flying overhead.
“I don’t have to explain unity here. Just look behind me. Our local officials, even on both sides, are here. Leyte is united. They have united behind the Marcos-Duterte coalition,” Marcos added.
Local officials of Leyte’s District 4 endorsed the UniTeam tandem.
The officials, led by mayoralty candidate and district Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez, and her husband Richard Gomez, who is Ormoc City mayor and congressional candidate, made the formal endorsement during last Saturday’s rally at the city plaza.
The Gomezes had earlier publicly announced that they would support the BBM-Sara tandem.
The incumbent mayor introduced Marcos to his constituents as the country’s next president.
Other local officials who attended the rally included Ormoc Vice Mayor Toto Locsin, Merida Mayor Lando Villacencio, Matag-ob Mayor Mike Danguillas, former Palumpon Mayor Georgina Arevalo, former Isabel Vice Mayor TJ Alcantara, Kanganga Mayor Matt Torres, Albuera Mayor Sixto dela Victoria, and provincial board members Ninoy Arevalo and Vince Rama.
The Ormoc and Leyte-Fourth District officials’ endorsement of the BBM-Sara tandem followed similar pronouncements made by political leaders in the province.
Over the weekend, Marcos said he would revive an initiative to enable Filipinos to secure a housing loan within just seven days.
Previously implemented by the Home Development Mortgage Fund (HDMF), more commonly known as Pag-IBIG Fund, the “7-Day Takeout Policy” willshorten the low-cost housing loan application process.
“We recognize every Filipino family’s desire to have a decent and safe home. We will strive to provide the Filipino worker with a dwelling that will restore his dignity and his hope for a better future,” said Marcos, standard-bearer of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.
The takeout policy would drastically reduce the waiting time for loan approval, which currently stretches from three to four months.
Government data show that the total housing needs of the country will hit 6.8 million units by the end of 2022 and could swell to 22 million units by the year 2040 if left unattended.