MANILA - Former Senator Mar Roxas on Tuesday skipped opposition slate Otso Diretso's official campaign launch in Caloocan City to mount his own kickoff rally in his hometown Capiz.
The opposition coalition was supposed to have a 2-day campaign kick-off that would start in Caloocan City and continue in Vice President Leni Robredo’s bailiwick in Naga City.
Roxas - a Liberal Party stalwart who was elected senator in 2004 and lost his vice presidential bid in 2010 and presidential candidacy in 2016 - “traditionally” starts his campaign in the Western Visayan city, his campaign manager and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice told reporters.
“Traditional ‘yung kaniyang 'pag kampaniya sa Capiz. We have political strategies on how to get those [votes],” he said.
Roxas’ absence from the slate on the campaign’s first day is not a reflection of the coalition’s unity, other Otso Diretso candidates said.
“Hindi dapat ‘yan maging issue kasi kami may kaniya-kaniya kaming pinanggalingan, nag-volt in lang kami [pero] united ang aming mensahe,” Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said in a press conference.
(That should not be an issue because we come from different places, we just volted in but we have a united message.)
“Bakit ba si Mar Roxas naman ang hinahanap niyo, nandito naman kaming pito?” election lawyer-turned-candidate Romulo Macalintal said in jest.
(Why are you looking for Mar Roxas when there are seven of us here?)
“Hindi dahil nawawala ang isa ay nangangahulugan na hindi kami nagkakaisa (Just because one is not here doesn't mean we are not united). Rest assured that this is a united group,” Macalintal said.
“Naiintindihan natin na si [former Trade and Interior] Sec. Roxas nagkaroon ng event sa Capiz,” re-electionist Senator Bam Aquino said.
(We understand that former Sec. Roxas had an event in Capiz.)
“Ang actual proclamation rally namin ay sa campaign sa Naga, doon kami magsasama-sama,” he said.
(Our actual proclamation rally is at the campaign in Naga, that's where we will come together.)
Otso Diretso's schedule was primarily based on that of Vice President Leni Robredo, the slate’s campaign manager and Liberal Party President Francis Pangilinan said when asked why the roster opted not to take part in Roxas’ “campaign tradition.”
Theater actress May “Juana Change” Paner, who was also at the press conference, appealed to Roxas not to distance himself from the “Otso Diretso brand.”
“Mar Roxas is building his own brand. Congressman Erice, you have to tell Mar na he has to join the team. His brand has to be Otso Diretso,” Paner said, addressing Roxas’ campaign chief.
“The truth is money is needed to win elections. Lucky for Mar he has it... We need Mar to support all of you,” Paner said.