DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 February) – Tondo in Manila, the symbol of urban poverty in the country, will be the venue for the first salvo of the lone Mindanawon Presidential candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, when the official campaign period begins on Tuesday, February 9, but his national campaign headquarters will be in Davao City.
It is the first time in the country’s history that a Mindanawon candidate for the Presidency is considered a major contender, according to surveys, and the first time that a national campaign headquarters of a Presidential candidate is based in Mindanao.
The headquarters of the Duterte Campaign Team 2016, located prominently along the diversion road in Ma-a, is gearing up for the 90-day election campaign from February 9 to May 7.
Richard Anio II, member of the core group of Run Rodrigo Duterte (RDR) for Mindanao, told MindaNews that they accommodate members of Duterte-Cayetano volunteers from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who are holding a series of meetings for the PDP-Laban presidential and vice-presidential bets.
The national headquarters is housed at the building of San-Ei Group, owned by businessman Nestor Ma. It has 10 rooms, two major lobbies for Luzon/Visayas and Mindanao, and two smaller lobbies. A parking space has also been provided within the compound a 2,000 square meter lot across the highway has been converted into a parking lot.
The headquarters has a session hall, an office for the sortie management team, a shared room for the Mindanao Island Committee and Region 11/Davao City Coordination Team, two discussion rooms for the security/media team and IT and legal team, a room for the campaign manager and national secretariat, media briefing room, board room, and two other rooms.
Travelers along the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway, more popularly known as Diversion Road, can’t miss the huge tarpaulin on the building’s façade that says “National Headquarters, Duterte Campaign Team 2016.”
Anio said that the team decided to set up the national headquarters in Mindanao because most of the leaders behind the campaign team are from here and the candidate himself, Duterte, is a Dabawenyo and Mindanawon.
The headquarters is expected to be a beehive of activity when the campaign period begins.
February 9 rallies
Anio added that they are working double time in finalizing details for the national proclamation of Duterte and running mate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano in Tondo, Manila and simultaneous regional rallies in Davao City and other key areas in Mindanao on February 9.
Leoncio Evasco, Jr. Duterte’s campaign manager, said the choice of Tondo is “to dramatize the plight of the urban poor,” most of whom came from Mindanao and the Visayas.
“Tondo has the biggest concentration of urban poor enclaves in our country,” Evasco said, adding that about 80% of its population are from Mindanao and Visayas whom went to Manila “for want of economic opportunities in the provinces” and government’s neglect.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance and his running mate Gregorio Honasan, will have their proclamation rally at 8 a.m. at the government-funded socialized housing project, Welfareville Compound, in Mandaluyong City; the Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas and running mate Leni Robredo will be in Roxas’ hometown, Roxas City in Capiz at 10 a.m.; Senators Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and his running mate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago at the Mariano Marcos State University in the Marcos hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte at 11:30 a.m.; Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero at Plaza Miranda at 4 p.m. and Duterte and Cayetano will be in Tondo at 7 p.m.
Anio said they are “organizing activities and events anchored on the national event. We will come with an event that will shake up Davao City,” he said.
He added that Duterte-Cayetano campaign slogan, “Tunay na Pagbabago” (Genuine Change) would encourage the people to vote on the “D-day” (decision day).
Anio pointed to Duterte’s strength in social media and how they would want to translate that into votes on the ground.
“We are expecting 80 to 90 percent support from Mindanao,” he said.
Everything is set
Rocky Balili, a political leader and member of RRD and Duterte Diehard Supporter (DDS)-Davao Region, added they are holding rallies in different areas such as Davao City, Mati City in Davao Oriental, Mabini and Pantukan in Compostela Valley, Tagum and Panabo Cities in Compostela Valley, Sta. Cruz and Digos City in Davao del Sur, and Malita in Davao Occidental.
“Everything is set. We are just waiting for the time,” said Balili, who chaired the League of Filipino Students in the city in the dying days of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s.
In Davao City, a rally will be held at the Freedom Park along Roxas Avenue, this city, simultaneous with the national proclamation in Tondo, Balili said.
He added that they are expecting a minimum crowd of 5,000 who would join the rally at their will. He said they do not want to bring supporters from the barangays as this would incur costs. Duterte’s supporters will, on their own, be there, he said.
“We want to create a bandwagon effect,” he added.
In a statement, Peter Laviña, former city councilor and now head of the media group of Duterte, said they are ready for the campaign. “We trust in the capacity, creativity and support of the Filipino people clamoring for genuine change. We are hopeful our voters will give their mandate to Duterte and Cayetano,” he said.
The 1st Division of the Commission Elections on Wednesday junked the cases for disqualification filed against Duterte for lack of merit by John Paulo delas Nievas, a student council chair of the University of the Philippines, broadcast journalis Ruben Castor, Elly Pamatong, and Rizalito David.
The 70-year old Duterte was elected mayor in 1988. He served as mayor until 1998, and again for three terms from 2001 to 2010. He served as 1st district Representative from 1998 to 2001 and vice mayor to daughter Sara from 2010 to 2013. He was elected mayor again in 2013, and by June 30, 2016 shall have completed 22 years as mayor of Davao City. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)