ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 18 March) — Thousands of supporters cheered as Mayor Maria Isabelle ‘Beng’ Climaco endorsed Vice President Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo in a rally at the venue named after her uncle, the legendary Mayor Cesar Climaco, who fought the Marcos dictatorship and was gunned down in November 1984.
“Zamboanga, let us remember who stood before us, even others will not,” Climaco, clad in a pink tee-shirt printed with “Beng-Leni” in bold capital letters, said.
“Let’s win our fight for good governance,” she told the crowd that endured the afternoon heat and evening rain at the Climaco Freedom Park in Abong-Abong Hill, Pasonanca.
The mayor emphasized that among the candidates it was Robredo who assisted the city in terms of agriculture, health, livelihood, social welfare, and others, especially after the pandemic erupted.
Robredo briefly discussed her plans for Zamboanga, and assured her audience that she would address the energy problem of the region should she win the presidency.
Robredo was joined by his running mate Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, reelectionist Senators Riza Hontiveros and Richard Gordon, and senatorial aspirants Chel Diokno, Alex Lacson, Teddy Baguilat, and Sonny Matula.
On Wednesday, Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, Gov. Jim Hataman, and Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman announced their choice of Robredo as the next president.
Rep. Hataman earlier issued a statement that Robredo is their “best chance” to prevent the return of the family that oppressed the Moro people, referring to the Marcos dictatorship which committed massacres and other abuses against them.
He added Robredo is the “best chance” for peace to continue in the Bangsamoro region.
Aside from local residents, the audience at the rally included residents from Zamboanga Sibugay.
Among the supporters from Zamboanga Sibugay was Ramon Magsaysay awardee Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon of Kabasalan town.
Ballon presented Robredo a symbolic wooden paddle in appreciation of her support in the past six years for the livelihood of farmers and fishermen in the region.
Robredo and Pangilinan thanked the voluntary support they got in terms of food, physical preparations, transportation and cash for fuel.
Task Force Zamboanga estimated the evening crowd at 35,000, while the City Planning and Development Office placed the afternoon crowd at 27,000.
The crowd at the rally in Basilan reportedly reached 45,000. (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)