MANILA (UPDATE) - The Partido Reporma party of presidential aspirant and Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson slammed the "UniTeam Caravan" of election rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Wednesday.
In a statement, Partido Reporma treasurer Arnel Ty called on the Interior and Local Government Department and Commission on Elections to look into the event, which drew thousands of supporters along Quezon City's Congressional and Quezon Avenues. The event caused heavy traffic on the westbound lanes of both roadways. Although the caravan began moving past 8 a.m., it took until after 1 p.m. for it to end at Welcome Rotonda.
The party said Marcos and Duterte held their caravan despite possible violations of Comelec rules and the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
"Partido Reporma laments that in the time of pandemic, there are politicians who still subscribe to that kind of politics where common decency and basic social conventions are being swept under the rug for political expediency," Ty said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Marcos' camp apologized for the traffic their caravan caused. In a statement, Marcos' spokesman Victor Rodriguez said traffic became heavy despite their team's preparations for the event.
"Hindi po kasi inaasahan ng mga naghanda sa nasabing okasyon na ma-overwhelm pa rin ang kanilang masinop at malawak na preparasyon sa dagsa ng mga taga-suporta nina Bongbong at Sara na sabik na makiisa at makita ang kanilang mga kandidato sa pagka-presidente at bise presidente," said Rodriguez.
(The organizers did not expect this despite our preparations. There were many supporters who were eager to see their candidates for president and vice president.)
Quezon City authorities said the event's organizers did not coordinate properly with the local government. It also called on them to ensure the safety of caravan participants.
"We are reviewing and assessing the situation right now. Although their group sent a formal withdrawal, we still made sure to deploy law enforcement, traffic, and medical personnel to provide ready assistance," said Quezon City legal department chief, Nino Casimiro.
"Being National Roads, we do not want to preempt and thus defer to the jurisdiction of the MMDA on the matter at this time."
Anakalusugan party-list representative and Quezon City mayoral candidate Mike Defensor and his running mate Winnie Castelo organized the caravan.
Defensor said he and his supporters planned to hold a gathering for Marcos and Duterte-Carpio at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. But the city government allegedly gave them the runaround, which Defensor called an effective rejection of their application.
Belmonte denied rejecting Defensor's application and said his camp withdrew the request. She added that the Quezon City Memorial Circle was a child-safe zone, and many children were still unvaccinated against COVID-19.