In UniTeam return to Cavite, gov says province 'has something to prove'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
In UniTeam return to Cavite, gov says province 'has something to prove'
Bongbong Macos and Sara Duterte's Grand UniTeam Rally in General Trias Cavite on March 22 drew a massive 100,ooo-strong crowd to shatter Leni Robredo's 47,000 in the same venue.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

CAVITE, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his UniTeam slate on Tuesday returned to vote-rich Cavite to woo millions of voters, and they were rewarded with a strong show of force by night's end.

Marcos, his running-mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and the UniTeam bets had mini-rallies at two covered courts, met with Cavite barangay officials, and culminated their tour to woo around 2.3 million voters at a grand rally at the General Trias Sports Complex. Sen. Bong Revilla of Bacoor and Sen. Francis Tolentino of Tagaytay accompanied them on the tour.

At the mini-rallies, there were cash prizes for UniTeam supporters who wanted to sing and dance for the crowd. Gov. Jonvic Remulla said this was not an election offense since there was no national candidate on stage then yet and the campaign season for the local elections has yet to start.

At the grand rally, the crowd waiting for hours before a show of musical performers. The show saw rapper Andrew E. hyping up the crowd and Toni Gonzaga performing her UniTeam sortie staple rendition of Katy Perry's "Roar."

Behemoth rally

At the General Trial Sports Complex — where his rival Vice President Leni Robredo staged a mammoth rally just weeks ago — Marcos faced tens of thousands of Caviteños. He was visibly pleased with the crowd turnout, profusely thanking them for their warm welcome. In jest, he said he expected a small crowd but  was greeted by 100,000 instead.

Although he did not mention Robredo, the vice president on March 5 hosted a grand rally at the same venue, where the crowd estimate was put at 47,000. The Remullas had contested the count, with a congressman saying the attendees must have been hauled in from outside the province.

Marcos said he was told it was cold there, but all he felt was “warmth” from the welcome of the Caviteños.

Gov. Remulla said he invited the UniTeam to come back to the province, because "Cavite has something to prove."

And if the Remulla clan, backed by the Revillas and Tolentinos, meant to show they can muster a show of force for the administration team: They did.

RELATED: PDP-Laban declares support for Marcos

The Cavite governor estimated there were around 100,000 people inside the sports complex, with 40,000 more who had to stay outside because of crowding at the entrance.

The Philippine National Police in Cavite, who were on the ground at the event, said they estimated there were 80,000 people at the event. They said, though, that the actual count could reach 100,000.

Remulla said he was only expecting 80,000 — still a much higher number than Robredo’s crowd — but was surprised at the turnout. His brother, Rep. Crispin Remulla (Cavite, 7th District) might have been more surprised at the turnout since he earlier said the venue was too small to hold the 47,000 supporters reportedly at the Robredo rally.

But the Cavite governor told reporters that his brother “is not the expert in crowd estimates.”

Jabs at Robredo

Marcos has decried supposedly negative campaigning for the May elections but took a different tack in the slate's return to Cavite as he took subtle digs at Robredo.

In a repeat of his remarks at a March 19 rally in Marikina City, Marcos hinted at supposed attempts to cheat in May.

A Senate panel led by his sister Sen. Imee Marcos has been looking into allegations of a security breach in the Automated Election System, although the Commission on Elections and tech provider Smartmatic have sought to reassure the public on the supposed breach. 

In the middle of his speech, presidential aspirant Marcos was intercepted by his supporters chanting "hindi kami papayag na dayain ka!" (We will not allow you to be cheated!)

Taking a pause, he said the cheating that he said happened in the past will not happen again.

Although he did not specifically mention any instance, Marcos alleged that he was cheated in the 2016 elections by Robredo. He took it to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal and lost.

Marcos said that come May 8, a day before the elections, he will send a ton of coffee to General Trias so his supporters will be alert and will not fall asleep sleep, hinting that things happen at night.

Robredo, who won against Marcos with a small margin of votes, overtook him in the national tally after he initial counts saw him in the lead.

In the 2016 race, Marcos won in Cavite, beating Robredo by 152,517 votes.

But in the coming elections, Marcos has the backing of powerful Cavite clans and the endorsement of the administration PDP-Laban party, which he bagged as he was touring Cavite.

Asked about the choice of venue for the UniTeam’s rally, Remulla said there was nothing special about it. They just decided it was the best venue for the UniTeam’s grand rally.

"It’s not a pissing contest but the Cavite is the epicenter of Philippine politics where Cavite goes, the country goes," the governor claimed. The declaration of indepdendence from Spain was done in what is now Kawit, Cavite in 1898.

The governor who earlier promised 800,000 votes for the UniTeam made an even more confident claim: That 800,000 would be the margin the Marcos-Duterte tandem would lead over their rivals.

In jest, he said it may be all bravado, but added: "But I think we’ll get to that."


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