MANILA - Otso Diretso on Wednesday traded a traditional miting de avance for a "grand thanksgiving concert” for volunteers and supporters who handed out flyers and campaigned on behalf of the opposition slate that was weighed down by limited funding and dismal survey rankings.
The sunset event held at the University of the Philippines’ Sunken Garden in Diliman, Quezon City was a way to give back to the volunteers who participated in the opposition coalition’s grassroots campaign, Liberal Party President and Otso Diretso campaign manager Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan told ABS-CBN News.
“Nakita natin sa social media yung paglabas nila ng sariling gawang poster, sariling kodigo, sariling streamer na sulat kamay,” he said.
“Libu-libo yan sa bawat parte ng Pilipinas... So pasasalamat sa kanila,” he said.
“Ito ay para sa aming mga volunteers para ma-energize pa sila sa mga nalalabing araw ng kampaniya,” Otso Diretso bet Erin Tañada told reporters in a separate interview.
(This is to re-energize our volunteers as we reach campaign home stretch.)
“Sila naman talaga ang nagdala ng aming kampaniya sa buong Pilipinas,” he said.
(They really helped us carry out the campaign nationwide.)
Among the original Pinoy music (OPM) bands and artists that took part in the “ThisIs8 Grand Thanksgiving Event” are the following:
- True Faith
- Noel Cabangon
- Bituin Escalante
- Ebe Dancel
- Cookie Chua
- Bayang Barrios
- Jana Garcia
- Room for Cielo
- Jam Pascual
- Better Days
- Mark Ghosn
- BAON Collective
“Marami ang nagvolunteer, marami sa kanila nag-waive talaga [ng talent fee] dahil ‘yun na daw ang kanilang kontribusyon sa ating kampaniya,” Pangilinan said.
The event was held in UP Diliman because Quezon City is a “strong support base for Otso Diretso,” he said.
“UP is a bastion of democracy and freedom. Yun din ay kasama sa mga pinaglalaban natin lalo na ngayon nagkakaroon ng sinasabi na kamay na bakal,” he said.
Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Antonio Trillanes, and Liberal Party stalwarts Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice and Quezon City Representatives Kit Belmonte and Bolet Banal were at the event.
NOT A MITING DE AVANCE
Supporters arrived at the university’s open field clad in blue, purple, white and green shirts that mirrored the campaign colors of the Otso Diresto candidates.
Some had to retreat to nearby buildings to take shelter from the sudden downpour that doused the gathering.
The slate refrained from calling the event as a miting de avance, as the term was used by traditional politicians, Pangilinan said.
“Yung miting de avance kasi masyadong tradisyonal, trapo ang dating,” he said, noting that Otso Diretso supporters were the focus of the event.
CONSPIRING AGAINST THE PRESIDENT?
The “ThisIs8” event was held hours after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo tagged the Liberal Party and the Otso Diretso slate to an alleged conspiracy against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Otso Diretso’s Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas, two opposition bets who have a statistical chance of winning a Senate seat, were allegedly conspiring with journalists and other personalities to unseat the President.
Otso Diretso candidates shrugged off the issue, describing Panelo’s pronouncements as another “diversionary tactic.”
“Buang lang ang maniniwala sa sabi ng buang,” Mar Roxas said.
(Only the crazy will believe that crazy person's claim.)
“Ginagawa lang naman ito dahil panahon ng eleksyon. Nakikita siguro nila na nag-ge-gain kami ng momentum,” Bam Aquino said.
(They are only doing this because we are gaining momentum.)
“May nasisiraan na ata ng ulo. It’s a clear sign of desperation on their part,” senatorial aspirant Florin Hilbay said.
(Someone's losing his mind.)
“It's their last minute effort to create a picture of the Otso Diretso as negative, even lawless, elements, without any evidence, as usual,” he said.
But Duterte’s popularity and taunts against Otso Diretso candidates hurt the slate’s chances of faring high in surveys, political analyst Julkipli Wadi said.
“If you minus Duterte from the equation, may laban talaga ang Otso Diretso kasi baguhan din naman yung mga nasa administrasyon,” he said.
Wadi was referring to PDP-Laban candidates Bong Go, Ronald Dela Rosa, Dong Mangudadatu and Francis Tolentino, who have not yet served in the Senate, but are faring higher in surveys.
“Yung pagiging kritikal nila sa administrasyon, nagtratranslate into negative iyon especially sa mga supporters ni Duterte,” he said.
Chances may be slim, but the opposition slate remains optimistic that they can pull a surprise win come election day.
“Surveys have been wrong before. Sa 18 taon kong nasa Senado, marami akong halalan na nakita, maraming resulta na nagiging sorpresa sa dulo,” Pangilinan said.
“It's an opportunity for us to have a come from behind finish,” he said.
The slate is not going down without a fight, the campaign chief said.
“We are going all out... Meron tayong final stretch of TV ads both national and regional and so we hope this messages and the kodigo operations we are doing will help in the home stretch,” he said.
“No retreat, no surrender. We would push for all the 8 candidates until the very end,” he said.