On a bright Monday morning, a parade of festival celebrants and exuberant crowd welcomed presidential candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, as they took their good governance agenda to this island province of MiMaRoPa.
Lacson, Sotto and senatorial aspirant Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Piñol began their activities here with courtesy calls on provincial Governor Jose ‘Otik’ Riano and municipal Mayor Gerard Montojo.
The presidential tandem then held a town hall meeting—a staple event during their campaign sorties—at the Romblon Public Theater to present their proposed policies of government, anchored on their flagship Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program.
Eager supporters held their smartphone cameras at the ready while waiting on the approaching candidates. Team Lacson-Sotto arrived at the town hall venue with local residents playing festive music that energized a multitude of Romblomanons.
Romblon Mayor Montojo and Vice Mayor Mariano Mateo said they are grateful to receive the longtime public servants in their town. The local chief executive noted that he and his constituents are generally respectful towards any candidate regardless of party affiliations.
“Dito sa Romblon, wine-welcome po namin kahit sinong kandidato, kalaban man o kakampi dahil demokrasya tayo. Nirerespeto natin ang isa’t isa kung kanino sila at kung sino ang pinaninindigan nating kandidato… ‘Yan po ang bayan ng Romblon,” Montojo said in his remarks.
“Dito sa Romblon, matitigas daw ang mga marmol dito, pero ang mga puso ng mga Romblomanon ay malalambot para sa mga panauhing katulad ninyo,” the mayor told their visitors. Romblon is known as the ‘Marble Capital of the Philippines’ because of its thriving marble industry.
Earlier in the day, Lacson, Sotto and Piñol also held campaign related activities in the town of Odiongan in Tablas Island, where he also met with some local government officials led by Mayor Trina Alejandra Firmalo-Fabic and Vice Mayor Diven Dimaala.
The presidential candidate informed them about the benefits of their BRAVE advocacy for the social and economic development of their constituents. Lacson also relayed to barangay officials the state-funded fuel subsidy intended for the members of their public transport sector.
Lacson and Sotto later addressed the residents of Odiongan gathered at the Children’s Paradise Park. They talked about their length of experience in public service, 83 years combined, which would work to their advantage in solving the different challenges of our time.
“Wala na kaming dapat i-prove pa. ‘Yung track record namin can speak for itself, ano, at ipagpapatuloy namin ‘yung serbisyo kung bibigyan kami ng pagkakataon na makapaglingkod sa susunod na anim na taon. Maaasahan po ninyo,” Lacson told the Romblomanons in Odiongan.
Piñol, for his part, reiterated his decision to stand behind the Lacson-Sotto tandem all the way until the logical conclusion of this year’s presidential elections. He advised voters not to get themselves lost in the noise of ‘sing-and-dance’ rallies from other candidates, which is not the style of their team.
“Sa amin pong partido, walang sumasayaw ng ‘Paruparo G’ at hindi rin po kami kakanta, pero ipapakita po namin sa inyo at ipakikilala namin sa inyo ang isang tamang pamamahala,” said Piñol, the former agriculture secretary and Mindanao Development Authority chairman.
“Isa lang pong masasabi ko sa inyo, itong tao na ito, sa tagal-tagal ng panahon na nag-serbisyo siya, lahat ng kanyang record malinis. Siya ang pinaka-competent, siya ang pinaka-preparado, siya ang pinaka-mature at siya ang pinaka may klarong programa de gobyerno,” he added, referring to Lacson.
Odiongan is celebrating its 175th founding anniversary, coinciding with the feast of its patron saint, St. Vincent Ferrer. The annual activities are collectively referred to as the Kanidugan Festival, derived from the word ‘nidog’ or ‘niyog’ in Tagalog, which means ‘coconut’—the quintessential tropical fruit.
Romblon is one of the provinces comprising the MiMaRoPa or the Southwestern Tagalog region, along with Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Palawan. According to the Commission on Elections, there are an estimated total of 1,991,599 registered voters in the region.