By Claire Morales True
LUBAO, Pampanga – A day before celebrating her 75th birthday, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo introduced Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to the Pampagueños as the “next Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
Macapagal-Arroyo, the country’s 14th President who is running unopposed for her old seat in Congress in the second district of Pampanga which covers the towns of Lubao, Sasmuan, Guagua, Floridablanca, Sta. Rita and Porac, made the endorsement during the UniTeam rally at the Pradera estate on April 4.
“Ako’y nasisiyahan na ang ating panauhing pangdangal ay walang iba kundi si Inday Sara Duterte — ang susunod nating bise-presidente sa Republika ng Pilipinas (I’m glad that our guest is no other than Inday Sara Duterte – our next vice president of the Republic of the Philippines),” Macapagal-Arroyo told the thousands of people who attended the rally.
Before delivering her message, Duterte, together with Rep. Juan Miguel Mikee Arroyo, led the crowd in singing the “happy birthday song” to the former president.
“Gini-greet ko po siya ng (I greeted her) a very happy birthday. I wish her good health, her happiness and we wish for her heart’s desire for the next two, three, four, 50 years more,” Duterte said.
In her message to Pampagueños, the Davao City mayor urged the people to unite for a better Philippines without the need to follow specific political color.
“Kung kami po ang pipiliin ninyo bilang political leaders ngayong May 9 elections ay dadalhin namin ang buong sambayanan na walang pong kulay ng politika — hindi po red, hindi green, hindi yellow, hindi
“‘Yan po ang mensahe ng UniTeam na sama-sama tayong babangon muli (That’s the message of UniTeam that will rise together),” she added.
Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, in a phone call through UniTeam senatorial candidate Jose Jinggoy Estrada, also delivered a birthday message to Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Happy, happy birthday, Madam President. More power to you and sana po tumakbo kayo ulit at ako ang mag pi-presentang campaign manager niyo (I hope you run again and I will present as your campaign manager),” Estrada said.
Duterte and her presidential running mate, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., have received backing from the political parties of two former Philippine presidents, the Lakas-NUCD for Arroyo and the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) for Estrada.
Duterte is running as official candidate of Arroyo’s party Lakas-NUCD.
Marcos’ Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) and Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and Lakas-Christian and Muslim Democrats had signed a “UniTeam alliance agreement” with Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
The new coalition aims to ensure the UniTeam’s presidential and vice presidential candidates’ victory.
The jampacked Lubao rally was also attended by Pampanga Governor Dennis “Delta” Garcia Pineda, Vice Governor Lilia “Nanay Baby” Pineda, and Lubao Mayor Esmeralda “Esmie” Pineda, all of Lubao town.
Senatorial candidates Herbert Bautista, Jose Jinggoy Estrada, Robin Padilla, Gregorio Gringo Honasan, Rodante Marcoleta, Mark Villar, Sherwin Gatchalian, Gilbert Teodoro, Larry Gadon, Loren Legarda and Salvador Sal Panelo attended the event. Senator Juan Miguel Migz Zubiri was represented by his wife Audrey Tan-Zubiri.