CANDIDATES and supporters of One Cebu waited past midnight for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who turned up for the formal launch of the two camps’ alliance.
After he arrived around 12:03 a.m. from Kalibo, Aklan, the presidential candidate admitted he was not feeling well, but thanked One Cebu’s members for waiting for him.
The launch came two weeks after gubernatorial candidate Winston Garcia announced the party’s decision to endorse Duterte, who is now chairman of PDP-Laban, and the vice presidential bid of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
“The alliance of the two parties will further strengthen Mayor Duterte’s candidacy in Cebu and at the same time allow us to carry One Cebu’s candidates in areas where we have also fielded candidates,” said Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, in a statement that One Cebu sent out ahead of Duterte’s arrival.
“Our two parties share many things in common. We stand united against crime and corruption. We are also determined to fight poverty by creating more jobs and giving those who have less in life better access to basic social services, such as education and health,” Pimentel said.
Not a joke
With Duterte now leading the presidential race based on the latest surveys, PDP Laban’s alliance with One Cebu could make him the runaway winner on May 9, the senator added.
During his speech, Duterte again explained his now-viral remarks about the 1989 prison riot where Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill was gang-raped and killed.
“It was not a joke,” the mayor said. “I said it in anger. I didn’t expect any laughter from the crowd.”
A video clip of his campaign speech last April 12, when he said that Hamill was so beautiful, he regretted not getting to her first, has gained attention from international media outlets and provoked a complaint against him before the Commission on Human Rights.
“If you don’t like my mouth, then fine,” he said in Cebu City last night. “But that is what I am…Nobody can question my love for this country.”
Before Duterte’s arrival, Senator Cayetano told reporters about some plans that the two parties shared, such as transferring the head office of the Department of Tourism to Cebu, as part of efforts to decentralize power.
While waiting, candidates and incumbent officials took turns going up onstage to pose for photos with Cayetano.
One Cebu party officials who led the general assembly were former House Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia, party founder Rep. Gwen Garcia and secretary-general Pablo John Garcia. Gwen is seeking reelection, while Pablo John is running for the congressional seat in the new seventh district.
Among those who addressed the assembly was former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña, who said he regretted helping the Liberal Party (LP) gain a foothold in Cebu.
But now that Duterte’s numbers are surging, he said, he looks forward to supporting the push for a federal form of government.
“Dako ang akong kalipay kay mahitabo na gyud ang akong gidamgo, kay ang sunod natong trabaho, ang pagpanday sa federal form of government (I am glad that something I have long dreamed about will soon come true. We will work on creating a federal form of government),” said Osmeña.
Among the officials present were Bantayan Mayor Ian Escario, Malabuyoc Mayor Lito Creus, Oslob Mayor Ronald Guaren and Asturias Mayor Allan Adlawan; Rep. Benhur Salimbangon and Provincial Board (PB) Member Sun Shimura.
While waiting for Duterte, One Cebu’s mayors took turns in delivering speeches, mostly criticizing the administration of Gov. Hilario Davide III, who is seeking reelection.
In his speech, Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez again accused the present Capitol administration of ignoring his town’s plight after typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
“Kung ang presidente naa’y Tacloban, ang gobernador diri naa’y Medellin, nga gilabay labayan lang ta sa hinabang (If the President is blamed for Tacloban, the governor of Cebu also has Medellin, to which he did not send help),” Ramirez said.
The Aquino administration’s response to Yolanda-struck communities has become one of the main issues of the campaign.