'The North remembers': Why Alcala, Cagayan supports Leni Robredo

Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2022 05:56 PM

Alcala, Cagayan goes all out for presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo as she barnstorms in the northern province on Saturday, March 12. VP Leni Media Bureau/handout
Alcala, Cagayan goes all out for presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo as she barnstorms in the northern province on Saturday, March 12. VP Leni Media Bureau/handout

Presidential candidate and current vice president Leni Robredo has secured the support of Alcala, Cagayan, a town she helped during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses in December 2020.

Aside from the warm welcome given by residents, Alcala Mayor Cristina Antonio said she is endorsing Robredo's bid for the presidency during the latter's campaign sortie.

Robredo was the first government official to swiftly respond when Alcala town was submerged in floodwater during Typhoon Ulysses.

"Mataas na mataas pa noon ang baha, hindi pa humupa — 15-meter high floodwaters, 24 out of our 25 barangays were submerged in those floodwaters. Ginawan niya ng paraan, nagpadala dito ng 500 sacks of rice. At talagang inalalayan kami sa pinakamahirap na bahagi noong challenge na iyon," Antonio told reporters.

In return for Robredo's assistance, the mayor said they are relentless in campaigning for the presidential bet in the province, which she admits is challenging given the region is dominated by supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

"Iniisa-isa po namin sila. Pumupunta po kami sa mga kababayan nila. We explain to them the good that VP Leni has done not just here in Alcala, but also, Cagayan. Lahat po ng gawain, lahat po ng accomplishments ni VP Leni, pinapaliwanag namin very patiently. Hindi kami umuurong. Hindi kami nadi-discourage, kahit kung minsan hindi kami pinapansin. It’s really just about expressing our love for VP Leni," she said.

Antonio is among the few local officials of Cagayan openly supporting Robredo, in a region considered as the bailiwick of Robredo's rival Marcos Jr.

"It is very challenging, admittedly. Ang nilalabanan namin dito ay yung fake news at disinformation at yung matagal nang nakasanayan na nakaugalian na kapag kapitbahay galing sa norte, yun dapat ang susuportahan at pipiliin. Pero unti-unti, mahabang-mahabang pasensya, pagpapaliwanag, ay makikita ng mga tao kung ano ang kagandahan ng paninilbihan ni VP Leni. And slowly, kinukutkot namin sa baba, hindi namin inuurungan," she added.

Robredo campaigned in two provinces of Cagayan Valley on Saturday, her first in Northern Luzon.

In her campaign speeches, the presidential bet proudly recalled her office's disaster response in Cagayan, despite losing in the province big time during the 2016 elections.

"Ang sinasabi ko nung nakaupo na po akong vice president, kahit talung-talo dito sa inyo bawat sakuna isa ako sa mga pinaka-unang nandito. Hindi ko po tinignan, hindi ako tumingin sa kulay ng pulitika. Basta tinatamaan yung cagayan ng bagyo andito po ako," Robredo said.

Asked if she gets any political pressure because of supporting Robredo, Antonio said it's just a matter of conviction.

"Hindi ko po binubuksan ang aking sarili sa kahit anong political pressure. I do not put myself in any position to be approached dahil malinaw na malinaw from the very beginning, I am for VP Leni," she said.

Survivors of Typhoon Ulysses attended Robredo and Pangilinan's campaign rally in Alcala, and some thanked Robredo for her assistance to the town.

"Iyon ang hindi namin nakakalimutan dito sa Alcala. Alcala remembers. The North remembers," Antonio said.

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