TWO days before she takes office, Vice President-elect Leni Robredo visited Cebu to swear in some allies and to thank Cebuanos who helped deliver her biggest political victory yet.
In an interview after she administered the oaths of nine Cebu City officials allied with Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) and led by Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña, Robredo took the opportunity to give thanks.
“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa lahat ng Cebuanos kasi malaking-malaki yung pinanalo ko dito; isang bagay na malaking karangalan para sa akin (I am truly thankful to all the Cebuanos because you gave me a huge margin here, which I consider a great honor),” she told reporters.
Her margin in Cebu Province and all its cities amounted to more than 151,000. She defeated outgoing Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by some 270,000 votes nationwide.
Robredo arrived at the Cebu City Sports Center more than two hours behind schedule. But the crowd, estimated at 15,000, welcomed her with cheers.
She mentioned, as she did during the campaign sorties here, that Cebu is special to her, considering that it was the last place that her husband, then Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo, visited before he died in a plane crash on his way home.
“Para manalo ako dito, parang pakiramdam ko symbolo ng pagtanggap nila sa akin (Winning here makes me feel that people have accepted me),” she said.
Also present at the oath-taking was former DILG secretary Mar Roxas, who ran for president as Robredo’s running mate but lost to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview, Roxas also thanked those who supported his candidacy.
“Sinamantala ko na rin ang pagkakataon para personal na ihatid ang aking pasasalamat sa ating mga kababayan dito sa Cebu. Humigit kumulang 600,000 ang boto na aking natanggap dito at malaking karangalan sa akin na pinag-katiwalaan ako ng ating mga kababayan dito sa Cebu (I would like to take the opportunity to thank our countrymen in Cebu. More or less 600,000 voted for me here, and I consider it a great honor that they trusted me),” he said.
Mayor-elect Osmeña had invited the public, through a Facebook post last June 25, to attend the oath-taking in the Cebu City Sports Center.
Around 15,000 showed up.
In his speech, the incoming mayor said he made it a point to keep the oath-taking and inaugural speech simple, with “no parade, no bands, no meals, no P20-million budget, no five-star hotel.”
“Your hearts are the most prized here,” he added.
He asked supporters to do their parts “to make Cebu City number one in the country again” and to help eradicate illegal drugs and bring down the crime rate. He asked for discipline.
Osmeña again said he will do his best to retrieve the lots in the South Road Properties that have been sold by outgoing Mayor Michael Rama’s administration to big developers.
“Gikawat sa SM, Ayala ug Filinvest ang inyong yuta (They stole your land). Maningkamot gyud ko, musukol gyud ko aron mubalik ang kaugmaon sa atong syudad (I will do my best, I will fight for it, just to bring back the future of our city),” he said.
He also mentioned that of 80 barangays in the city, only 12 chiefs allied themselves with BOPK in the May 9 elections.
“OK, they (Team Rama) have 68 barangay captains, but for me that’s only 68 votes. What I see here is there are more than 68 of you,” he said.
Osmeña has been away from the mayorship for six years. For the first three, he served as congressman of the city’s south district and was still political allies then with Rama, his former vice mayor. But the two had a falling-out ahead of the 2013 elections, which Osmeña lost by some 6,000 votes. Last month, he defeated Rama by more than 30,000 votes.
“Nothing can block our way but I can’t do it myself. I don’t need the barangay captains. I only need you,” he told the crowd.
Cebu City Police Office Director Benjamin Santos, in an interview, said 179 officers were fielded to coordinate with 42 persons from the Cebu City Transportation Office to oversee security and traffic management. There were no reported incidents during the event.