It's 'Unity, Unity, Unity' for UniTeam's presidential bet Marcos

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s tandem name, UniTeam, is a play on their platform of unity — and, at the kickoff of their national campaign, it was the only thing Marcos talked about.

Facing thousands of supporters packing the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Tuesday, Marcos stressed that unity among Filipinos is the key to recovering from the crisis brought by the pandemic.

For the 15 minutes he spoke, Marcos repeated the word “pagkakaisa” or some variation of it more than 20 times. Concrete plans towards that unity were lacking in his speech.

He recalled that when he first announced his bid, he said he is presenting himself as a unifying leader.

“Ang pagkakaisa ay naging adhikain ko dahil sa aking aapat na paniniwala na ng pagkakaisa ay ang unang hakbang upang tayo ay makaraos na sa gitna ng krisis na nasan tayo,” he said.

(Unity has become my advocacy because of my sincere belief that unity is the first step for us to recover from the crisis that we are in.)

He shared that their unity message resonated with the people they met while going around the country.

“Nasa puso at ugali ng mga Pilipino ang maging mabait. Di naman tayo pala-away, di naman tayo naghahanap ng gulo. Ang hanap lang natin ay magkaroon ng disenteng buhay para sa ating sarili, para sa ating pamilya at para sa ating bansa,” Marcos said.

(Being good to others is in the heart and nature of Filipinos. We do not like picking fights, we are not looking for a ruckus. We only seek a decent life for ourselves, for our family, for our country.)

No fighting with other candidates

The presidential aspirant walked on stage to an instrumental rendition of “Umagang Kay Ganda,” which is in theme with the UniTeam’s proposed unification campaign that they said would give hope for the people. But Marcos has kept his platform shrouded in motherhood and all-encompassing statements for unification, and did not go into details in his speech at the proclamation rally.

His running-mate, Duterte-Carpio, said they will work for three things: Jobs and livelihood for many; quality education for the youth; and peaceful life.

“We can do better. The government can do better. We shall stand tall, united and resilient,” the Davao City mayor said.

Marcos has so far shunned invitations to independently-conducted forums where he has the opportunity to expound more on his platform, citing conflict in schedule and even accusing a journalist of “bias.”

Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said that while skipping forums for candidates is not “red flag” for the poll body, it may be one for voters.

Marcos’ spokesperson, Vic Rodriguez, said in an ANC interview on Wednesday that they are not avoiding such events but they prefer interviews over forum where candidates are expected to debate.

“Pagod na ang tao sa awayan. Kung tayo ay maglalagay lang ng forum para mag-enjoy at makita nag-aaway sila 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 candidates, hindi po kami sasali riyan. Ang gustong marinig ng taong bayan ay solusyon,” he said.

(The people are tired of fighting. If we are going to a forum to enjoy and see candidates fight, we will not take part of that. What the nation wants to hear are solutions.)

Press freedom coaliton Freedom for Media Freedom for All, as well as a number of newsrooms, organizations and media practitioners, this week issued a statemnt urging candidates to join forums and debates organized by media.

They said that although "candidates have the right to refuse to appear in forums and interviews, such refusal is a disservice to voters who want fuller discussions on how candidates plan to address issues and crises like the pandemic, the West Philippine Sea dispute and the economy."

"The coalition is concerned as well that candidates’ hesitation to appear before the press while still seeking election indicates the attitude towards the media that they might adopt when already in power."

Continuity of Duterte programs

Marcos told his supporters in their proclamation rally that his tandem with Duterte-Carpio is a good showing of unity.

“That’s why the Marcos-Duterte is a really good example because one from the north and another from the other end of the Philippines can come together and unite,” he added in Filipino.

Duterte-Carpio took time to thank her father, President Rodrigo Dutetre for "showing us the way."

She said the UniTeam is a tandem "endowed with wisdom and experience."

"Not only to sustain the growth spurred by the current administration but also to bring a more prosperous future, we must protect President Bongbong Marcos," the president's daughter added.

RELATED: Marcos 'no longer aligned' with admin but hopeful for alliance with Sara Duterte

Of the named senatorial bets in the UniTeam slate, three are former members of the Duterte Cabinet. They are: Harry Roque, Gringo Honasan and Mark Villar.

Nine of the 11 attended the event physically, including Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, whose re-election bid also got the endorsement of other presidential candidates. Two aspirants, Honasan and Rep. Loren Legarda (Antique), sent messages.

But Duterte-Carpio also took time to mention that other candidates not part of their ticket would remain her friends. They are: Actor Robin Padilla, former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero, former police chief Guillermo Eleazar, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Sen. JV Ejercito and Sen. Joel Villanueva.

Her father’s ruling PDP-Laban party has already adopted Duterte-Carpio as their vice presidential bet but has yet to pick a presidential candidate to support. 

On the eve of the proclamation rally, President Duterte said candidates have communicated to him and asked for his support. "I may, in the end, if I see that it would be — my advice and maybe endorsement would help if need. But at this time, I am saying that I am not supporting anybody," he added partly in Filipino.

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