KAWIT, Cavite - Otso Diretso ended its series of provincial campaign rallies on Monday in vote-rich Cavite province, one of the areas that delivered a win for President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.
The opposition slate hitched its final provincial sortie with the miting de avance of Liberal Party (LP) provincial president and Cavite first district Rep. Francis Abaya held in front of the Aguinaldo Shrine, where the Philippines declared its independence from Spain.
“Gumagawa tayo ng rebolusyon para sa mga natutulog na kababayan na undecided,” Otso Diretso bet Samira Gutoc told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
(We are mounting a revolution for our undecided countrymen.)
“Cavite is the number 2 most vote-rich province after Cebu at sa tingin namin, kung makuha namin ang Cavite, Region 4, NCR [National Capital Region], at Region 3, malaki na pong vote delivery yan para sa Otso Diretso,” one of the slate’s bets Erin Tañada said in a separate interview.
(Cavite is the number 2 most vote-rich province after Cebu and if we could get a lot of votes from Cavite, region 4, NCR and region 3, then that would be a huge vote delivery for Otso Diretso.)
Cavite province has 2.1 million voters registered for the May 13 elections.
In the 2016 presidential elections, 557,639 Caviteño voters backed Duterte, while LP standard-bearer and now Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Mar Roxas placed third in the province with 232,376 votes.
Abaya was the lone local government official present in the miting de avance here.
“We expected that even before the campaign started na wala kami masyadong local government officers. Dito papasok ang ating volunteers at ground work,” Tañada said.
(We expected even before the campaign started that we would not have a lot of local government officers. This is where our volunteers and ground work come in.)
The slate earlier said most local officials have refused to publicly endorse opposition-affiliated candidates for fear of retribution from the Duterte government.
They told us the release of their internal revenue allotments might be affected if they help us, Gutoc earlier said.
Abaya, despite publicly endorsing the opposition coalition, shunned media interviews in his own miting de avance.
The Cavite first district representative who voted against the death penalty received a “zero budget” in the 2018 General Appropriations Act.
“Naiintindihan natin na real ang threat not only to their (local officials’) lives, to their careers but even to their families,” Otso Diretso senatorial hopeful Gary Alejano told reporters
(We understand that there is a real threat against their lives, their careers and also their families.)
“We’re just hoping for the best,” he said.
Senatorial aspirant and veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said he tapped his previous clients to include him in their sample ballots since most of them cannot publicly endorse him due to conflicting political alliances.
The 71-year-old lawyer said the Remullas and Maliksis, as well as the mayors of Naic, Ternate and Mendez towns in Cavite were among his former clients.
“Kahit hindi ka publicly endorsed, basta makasama ka sa sample ballots, yun ay napaka halaga,” Macalintal said.
(Even if they cannot publicly endorse us, if we are included in their sample ballots, that is already very important.)
“Ako’y natutuwa na napakaraming clients ko ang tumawag sakin at nagsasabi na dala nila ako sa kanilang sample ballots. Pinadadalhan pa nila ako ng litrato nung kanilang mga sample ballots,” he said.
(I am happy that a lot of my clients called to tell me that they have included me in their sample ballots. They even sent pictures of the sample ballots.)
Other Otso Diretso bets Aquino, Chel Diokno, Pilo Hilbay and Roxas did not attend the Cavite rally as they continued to woo voters in other parts of the country.
Aquino was represented by his nephew Simon, while Diokno’s eldest son and award-winning director Pepe Diokno attended the event on the human rights lawyer’s behalf.
Roxas’ cousin Pancho Joaquin and Hilbay’s brother Alex also spoke on behalf of the two Otso Diretso bets.
The 8-man opposition slate continues to trail in pre-election surveys with only Aquino, who is vying for a second term, having a statistical chance of winning in next week’s polls, according to Pulse Asia’s survey conducted from April 10-14 or a month before election day.
The slate will end its campaign run with a miting de avance and concert on May 8 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.