Stage set for poll bets' last hurrah


MANILA (3rd Update) - Closing a grueling three-month campaign, election candidates on Saturday mounted their final grand rallies in various parts of Metro Manila, in a final show of force before Monday's polls.

A sea of supporters in red converged for leading presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, at their "miting de avance" at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.

Singer Aiza Seguerra, a vocal supporter of the PDP-Laban standard bearer, kicked off the program. 

As of 8 p.m., event organizers estimated the crowd at Luneta at 750,000 people.

READ: Muscle cars, clenched fists in frenzied Duterte rally


A thick crowd of 3,000 people also flocked the final campaign rally of Senator Grace Poe at the Plaza Miranda in Manila's Quiapo district.

Only two southbound lanes of the Quezon Boulevard -- from Morayta until the Quezon Boulevard bridge area -- were open to traffic as the senator's supporters started converging in the area past 2 p.m.

Movie icon Nora Aunor also delivered a speech at the rally, dissuading voters from supporting a candidate who lacks respect for women, in an apparent reference to Duterte. 

The 71-year-old Davao mayor has been severely criticized for kissing female supporters at his rallies, supposedly flaunting his extra-marital affairs, and making light of the rape-slay of an Australian missionary. 

Aunor also criticized Vice President Jejomar Binay, another presidential rival of Poe, for failing to help one of her fans secure a job. 

The whole senatorial slate of the Poe's Partidong Galing at Puso (PGP) also joined the event. 

Also among the celebrities expected at the affair are Coco Martin, Angeline Quinto and Ogie Alcasid as well as Poe's sister, Lovi Poe, and Senator Francis Escudero's wife, Heart Evangelista. 


Meanwhile, a 12,000-strong crowd assembled for the miting de avance of Vice President Jejomar Binay in his bailiwick Makati, as of 8 p.m., according to the NCRPO. 

Binay's actual miting de avance at the Lawton Avenue-JP Rizal and Kalayaan Avenue area was scheduled to run from 7 to 10 p.m. A pre-program was scheduled at 4 p.m.

"It's Showtime" host Jhong Hilario entertained the crowd with a dance number together with Rep. Abby Binay and her brother, dismissed mayor Junjun Binay. 

The congresswoman is running for Makati mayor against current Makati City Mayor Romulo "Kid" Peña who assumed position when Junjun was dismissed from office.


Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Mar Roxas was scheduled to have his miting de avance at the Quezon Memorial Circle at 5 p.m.

President Aquino, Roxas's running-mate, Leni Rebredo, and the administration's senatorial picks were also in full force at the rally.

Also among the attendees were the ruling party's local candidates from Caloocan, Pasay, Taguig, Mandaluyong and Quezon City. 

Show business personalities including Maricel Soriano, Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla, Gary Valenciano and the Rivermaya band were expected at the sortie. 

The NCRPO said some 30,000 LP supporters were at the rally, as of 8:40 p.m.


Senator Miriam Santiago, meanwhile, attended a gathering organized by her youth supporters in West Triangle, Quezon City.

The Youth for Miriam Movement spearheaded the street party and meet and greet with the senator at the corner of 9th Street and West 4th streets. 

The feisty lawmaker's running mate was expected to grace the event with her running mate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., at around 8 p.m.

Santiago, in a statement, earlier said that she will not withdraw the presidential race despite consistently bringing up the rear in voter preference surveys. 

In a separate statement, the Youth for Miriam Movement, also denounced the supposed black propaganda on the poor health of the senator who is undergoing clinical trial for a new cancer drug. 

Public Information Office Chief Inspector Kimberly Molitas has said police are ready to secure the public.

"We have prepared contingency plans related to the election period to include the miting de avance. Our field commanders, the joint task forces are all joining forces to make sure all these activities are secured," Molitas said. -- With reports from Adrian Ayalin, Jeff Hernaez and Dominic Almelor, ABS-CBN News; Fred Cipres and Dennis Datu, dzMM 

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