ROBREDO GAINS GROUND; MARCOS MAINTAINS LEAD — VP poised to spring surprise; Isko, Pacquiao still hopeful of poll win

By ALFRED GABOT, Editor in Chief

MANILA – With only a few days before the May 9 election, Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo has gained some grounds on frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr. judging from big rallies for her ticket in Bulacan, Cebu, Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City on her birthday and other areas and the influx of new endorsers.

Marcos, known as BBM or Bongbong in the campaign trail, however, solidified his wide lead in the surveys over her rivals just like her runningmate, Davao City Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte, who are both drawing supporters from wide sectors.

The BBM-Sara Unity Team has also been drawing record attendance in their rallies, the latest being in Cagayan de Oro City, Manila, Taguig City and Bulacan.

At press time, Marcos said in a television interview that he will be a “unifying leader” once elected. “I will work with every iota of my being to be a unifying leader,” he added as he vowed to lead the country to new scale of growth and development that will benefit the people.

Meantime, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson refuse to give up their fight, saying it will be the people who will decide, not the surveys.

Domagoso said he will fight to the end as he continued unflinching determination in what he said as his pursuit of giving the ordinary people the government that they truly deserve.

“The elections are not over until all the votes, especially those from the silent majority, have been counted,” the 47-year-old presidential candidate said while campaigning in Kalibo, Aklan.

As this developed, Domagoso was charged with graft together with Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and several Manila officials in connection with the allegedly questionable sale of the Divisoria market property of the city government.

“Gagapang tayo talaga, kasi I really wanted to reach as many people as possible as our commitment. Dire-diretso lang sa tao,” Moreno said in Aklan.

The fighting stance was adopted by world boxing icon Pacquiao as he called for a “revolution” by the millions of poor Filipinos who constitute the biggest block of voters for the May 9 elections.

Robredo, supported by runningmate Sen. Francis Pangilinan, said a momentum in their favour has been ignited hoping to spring a surprise victory in the race on May 9.

Robredo’s latest rally in Malolos City was participated by 140,000 supporters based on organizers’ estimate that included Vice Ganda and other celebrities.
The rally – titled “Republika 2.0: Tindig ng Bulakenyo” – drew a significant crowd increase from the 45,000 that gathered during their first rally in Bulacan on March 5.
Reelectionist Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando of the National Unity Party, who endorsed Robredo’s candidacy in March,  raised Robredo’s  hand again in front of the crowd.
Aside from Vice Ganda, celebrities Nadine Lustre, Yeng Constantino, and Darren Espanto performed at the Malolos rally.
Meanwhile, veteran actress Boots Anson Roa, a known supporter of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has publicly declared her support for  Robredo in the May 9 elections.

Based on the Laylo Research surveys held from April 14 to 20, Marcos got the vote of 64 percent of the respondents, gaining 3 percentage points from his March performance of 61 percent, putting him 43 percentage points ahead of VP Robredo who scored 21 percent.

In the survey, Marcos also continued to dominate all the major voting areas with 62 percent voter preference in the National Capital Region, 80 percent in North Central Luzon, 46 percent in South Luzon and Bicol, 57 percent in the Visayas, and 75 percent in Mindanao.

“The Laylo survey results reinforced the observations made by political pundits that Marcos’ numbers are continuing to firm up as elections near,” the Marcos camp said.

In another survey  by PUBLiCUS Asia, Marcos’ firm voters rose by 10 percent, from 70 percent in February to 80 percent this April.

David Yap, PUBLiCUS Asia’s chief data scientist, said the increase in vote firmness means that voters become more committed to their chosen candidate.

In endorsing Robredo at the Malolos rally, Governor Fernando said Robredo is the leader that the country needs.
“She served as the voice of the poor and the people who have no voice in society. She’s the inspiration of many Filipinos, especially of the Filipino youth,” Fernando said.
Fernando’s endorsement of Robredo is considered important in the Robredo camp because Bulacan is the fifth biggest province in terms of number of voters.
Reelectionist Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, meanwhile, has been dropped from Robredo’s ticket due to his “open endorsement of another presidential candidate.”
Robredo’s spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, said this was “in contravention of the agreement with all guest candidates” of not endorsing a presidential candidate.

Zubiri has been quoted as introducing former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., as “our president.”

“With 12 days remaining before elections, we are moving forward with our 11-candidate Senate slate,” Gutierrez said.
The tandem of Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has also removed Zubiri from their slate after his endorsement of Marcos.