Hugpong wraps up campaign in Duterte bailiwick

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2019 06:27 AM | Updated as of May 10 2019 08:02 AM

Hugpong ng Pagbabago candidates, led by the regional party's chairperson Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, hold their miting de avance in Davao City on May 9, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY - Regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago ended Thursday its 3-month campaign for its Senate bets in the hometown of its leader, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Thousands converged at the city’s center as the regional party’s 13 candidates gathered for the last time after touring the entire country to woo voters and vow support for the legislative priorities of Carpio’s father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Kailangan natin ang mga kakampi ni Pangulong Duterte doon sa Senado para maisulong na ang lahat ng kanyang legislative agenda,” said former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of the HNP candidates.

“Huwag po tayong magsisingit ng iba lalo na ang aming mga katunggali. Hindi ko nga kialala kung sino ang aming mga katunggali namin, mga dilawan,” he added, referring to the “yellows”, the pejorative term used to refer to the supporters of the opposition Liberal Party.

(We need to put President Duterte’s allies in Senate so that his legislative agenda will be pursued. Don’t vote for our opponents. I don’t even know them, the yellows.)

The HNP candidates, reelectionist senators Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, Sonny Angara, and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, former special assistant to the president Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, former senators Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino, and journalist Jiggy Manicad, made their last pitch to voters in the Dutertes’ hometown, the country’s third most vote-rich city, before 61.8 million Filipinos head to polling stations on Monday, May 13.

The regional party ran a well-oiled campaign, visiting vote-rich areas in the country that the opposition slate Otso Diretso could only dream of reaching with its limited resources.

HNP’s tireless barnstorming and its seemingly bottomless campaign resources paid off, as 10 of its 13 candidates have a statistical chance of winning in next week’s polls, according to major pollster Pulse Asia.

SARA IN 2022?

HNP, formed by Carpio and other leaders in the Davao Region, supported the 13 senatorial candidates even as it maintained its identity as a regional party.

Carpio, who left her duties as Davao City mayor to campaign for the candidates, has downplayed talk that HNP is aspiring to become a national political party which would carry her possible presidential bid in 2022.

The Davao City mayor said she might announce in January 2021 whether she would run for president or not.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio at the miting de avance of Hugpong ng Pagbabago. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

But for now, Carpio said she would prefer that supporters stop labeling her as the country’s “next president,” as this could made her a prime target of other people eyeing the presidency. 

University of the Philippines political science professor Aries Arugay said the emergence of HNP was for Carpio to test the waters for a possible presidential run.

He added, Carpio’s being coy about running for president is understandable, given the experience of those who declared their intentions to run way ahead of the elections.

“I think if we all now know that Sara Duterte has 2022 ambitions although it does not really take someone who is a political scientist to have figured that out,” Arugay told ABS-CBN News.

“But we all know the tragedy of politicians who declare too early… In the end timing is also important and what happens between now and 2022 is still a long way.”