TOP officials of Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, joined the caravans and unity rally in Bacolod over the weekend to show support to President Rodrigo Duterte.
About 2,000 people led by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia trooped to the Government Center on Sunday, February 26.
Interior Undersecretary for Public Safety Jesus Hinlo Jr., a Negrense, and 17 mayors also joined the rally, which started with a caravan from the Provincial Capitol.
On Saturday, Leonardia and fellow Bacolod officials, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, and Representative Greg Gasataya, also joined the caravan of pro-Duterte group Kilusang Pagbabago-Negros Island Region led by former councilor Archie Baribar.
Marañon, in his speech Sunday, said that Negrenses are uniting for Duterte.
“We are one with the President for the development of our province and the country,” he said.
The governor said that a locality with “no unity and peace will not develop,” adding that the administration is assured of the help of the Negrense leaders in the programs and projects for the nation’s development.
Marañon is also the adviser of Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD NECC).
For his part, Leonardia said that his administration fully supports Duterte, and the retention of the Negros Island Region.
“I think it is clear that the President has the mandate and that he will stay for six years,” Leonardia said.
He added that the people should give Duterte the chance to finish his plans for the country.
Victorias City Mayor Frederick Francis Palanca, president of Association of Chief Executives in Negros, said they attended the rally because they are “very happy” with the situation of the government right now, especially with the peace and order and the campaign against illegal drugs.
He added that the previous administration had failed to address the country’s peace and order situation.
With Duterte’s leadership, the country right now is peaceful, he added.
Hinlo said that through Marañon, almost all of the mayors in Negros Occidental have joined Duterte’s party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
He added that the leaders of Negros Occidental have to help the President and should set aside their political differences.
“We have five more years to go. If we do politicking and go against the President, Negros might get neglected. We have an elected president, the Filipinos have spoken. We have to unite for the President,” Hinlo said.
Majority of the officials in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod, supported the presidential bid of Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II.
After the elections, Marañon, along with the mayors and other local officials, pledged their allegiance to the administration party.
Aside from showing unity for the President, the Negrenses also appealed to Duterte to retain Negros Island Region.
Other mayors present at the pro-Duterte rally were Nicholas Yulo of Bago City, Isidro Zayco of Kabankalan City, Alfredo Marañon III of Sagay City, Agustin Ernesto Bascon of Himamaylan City, Oscar Montilla Jr. of Sipalay City, Emmanuel Aranda of Binalbagan, Marvin Malacon of E.B. Magalona, Jose Nadie Arceo of Hinigaran, Rhumyla Mangilimutan of La Castellana, Lourdes Escalante of Manapla, Magdaleno Peña of Moises Padilla, Jose Benito Alonso of Pontevedra, Marxlen de la Cruz of Salvador Benedicto, Jilson Tubillara of San Enrique, Richard Jaojoco of Toboso, and Enrique Miravalles of Valladolid.
Also present were Bacolod Representative Greg Gasataya, Board Member Annabelle Bermudo, and retired army general Raymundo Jarque.
Leaders of sugar planters groups also came, including Enrique Rojas of the National Federation of Sugar Planters, Manuel Lamata of United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc., Francis de la Rama of Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc., Roberto Gatuslao of Negros Prawn Producers Cooperative, and Edgar Sarrosa of Sicogon Development Corporation.