A CROWD estimated at 60,000 gathered last night to listen to Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III recall his and his family’s ordeal during Martial Law and how it shaped his political career.

The presidential aspirant, his running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and the Liberal Party’s (LP) candidates for the Senate addressed the crowd in a proclamation rally that, as promised, lacked celebrities, but not flattery and campaign promises.

Aquino promised to listen to residents of socialized housing sites under Ordinance 93-1, referring to an issue that has caused bickering between Cebu City and Cebu Province officials.

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Roxas described Cebu City as “a perfect example” of the party’s campaign slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (Without corruption, no one would be poor).”

Earlier in the day, the LP’s candidates for the Senate said they have high hopes the Cebuanos will vote for them, despite its reputation for being an administration bailiwick. In 2004, the administration ticket led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won by over a million votes in Cebu.

“We have a great faith in the Cebuanos because they are smart. Cebuanos know what’s best for them and that’s why they’ll vote for us,” said former senator and socioeconomic planning secretary Ralph Recto.

Pia Lacson, who represented her husband Atty. Alex Lacson, said that the LP slate has candidates known for their character and good moral standing.

The candidates also defended Senator Aquino against reports his and the party’s campaign is being mismanaged.

“Saying that the campaign is mismanaged is a misnomer and inaccurate. A people’s campaign can never be mismanaged,” said former congressman Neric Acosta.

He said the reason their opponents view their campaign as disorganized is that there are a lot of individuals and groups who are supporting the LP in their own ways.

“Everybody wants to help, and we won’t call it mismanaged. It’s the kind of problem we like. It’s a beautifully created and organized chaos,” he said.

Aquino also addressed the same allegation in a separate news conference at Mactan airport. The campaign, he said, is not mismanaged although it is “inherently difficult.”

“And maybe it’s because I declared late my bid for the presidency,” he said. Aquino announced he is running for president 40 days after the death last August of his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino.

The latest surveys either place Aquino in the lead among the presidential aspirants, or in a statistical tie with Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party.

“It is incumbent upon us to maximize the lead. We want to have the biggest lead possible to have a comfortable margin,” said Aquino. He added the party will make sure its supporters stay vigilant.

Along with Aquino for the Cebu visit yesterday were Acosta, Lacson, Recto, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Ruffy Biazon, Bo Roco (representing Sonia Roco) and Aloysia Lim. (PDF/With RHM)