MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Philippines – From this vote-rich province in Northern Mindanao, vice presidential candidate Alan Peter Cayetano emphasized his and his standard-bearer’s vision of a progressive Mindanao.
Duterte is the only presidential candidate who has the interests of the region and its people at heart, said the senator during sorties in Misamis Oriental on Monday, February 15.
“He stands for the small people in Mindanao who believe in independence, who believe Mindanao should be given what it’s due, who believe the wealth of Mindanao is being stolen and transferred to Metro Manila,” Cayetano said in Filipino in front of hundreds of supporters in Tagoloan, a city in Misamis Oriental.
Duterte was unable to attend any of the events here because the private jet he was supposed to ride experienced "engine problems," said his camp.
Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
Crowds waited for over 4 hours just to see Duterte and were disappointed by the news. Cayetano filled in for the presidential bet.
Development for all regions is the Duterte-Cayetano tandem’s pitch for the audience. (READ: Duterte, Cayetano platform focuses on crime, economy)
Earlier today: Alan Peter #Cayetano explains why Duterte-Cayetano tandem is a cut above other 2016 tandems. #PHVote pic.twitter.com/m2JGTVMrhP — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 15, 2016
Cayetano repeated their tandem’s plan to distribute government investments to all parts of the country instead of continuing the present state in which a huge chunk of the national budget goes to Metro Manila.
“Sa buong Pilipinas, P1 trillion ay nandoon po sa Metro Manila alone. Ang buong Mindanao po wala pang P500 billion,” he told vegetable farmers in Santa Cruz, Tagoloan, citing findings from Senate budget hearings.
(In the whole Philippines, P1 trillion is in Metro Manila alone. The entire Mindanao doesn’t even get P500 billion.)
To spread growth, the tandem’s most radical proposal is to lead the shift to a federal form of government for the Philippines.
In federalism, more power and resources are given to local government entities while only responsibilities of national interest are left to a central government based in Metro Manila.
But before the shift to federalism, which could take several years to achieve, Cayetano said their pair would bring development to Mindanao by doing 4 things:
Cayetano made sure to emphasize something else: that a vote for their tandem is a vote for real change, while voting anyone else would only ensure the continuity of a lacklustre status quo.
“Kung ilalagay 'nyo si Grace Poe, ilalagay 'nyo lang si VP Binay, ilalagay 'nyo lang si Mar Roxas, pero tingnan 'nyo po plataporma nila…. Kung itatanim natin pareho din lang, huwag 'nyo aasahan na iiba sistema natin,” he told the farmers.
(If you elect Grace Poe, VP Binay, Mar Roxas, but look at their platforms…. If you plant the same thing, don’t expect the system to change.)
'Because he is from Mindanao'
Some of those who heard him believe him.
Farmer Nelson Tomonlay said he is voting for the tandem hoping they will help the plight of Mindanao farmers.
“Para mabigyan talaga ng pagkakataon na yung mga farmers natin sa Mindanao…Pinabayaan yung mga farmers dito sa Mindanao,” he told Rappler.
(So that farmers in Mindanao are given the opportunity because they have been left behind.)
Earlier today, here's what farmer Nelson Talondoy in Misamis Oriental thinks of #DuterteCayetano. #PHVote pic.twitter.com/mzlWt62xxf — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 15, 2016
Asked why he believes Duterte and Cayetano can fulfill their campaign promises, he said, “Kaya po, kasi may experience na, sinasabi nila 'yung sa Davao at saka 'yung isa pang lungsod, bayan na inimplement nila yung mga programa, so proven na.”
(They can do it because they already have experience. They talked about Davao and another city where they implemented these programs so it’s proven.)
Pastor Ching Roa, of the influential Roa clan who share the surname of Duterte’s Mother (Soledad Roa), is a solid Duterte-Cayetano supporter.
Sitting on the front row of the large gathering in Tagoloan Dome, he said he likes the tandem’s pro-Mindanao platform.
“Because Duterte is from Mindanao and he is kind, helpful, transparent, honest real. Cayetano is an economist. Honest also, real, transparent,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He agrees with the saying that Duterte is Mindanao’s hope.
“How many presidents have we had? Has there been any improvement in Mindanao? None. Only now. Duterte is the man. Cayetano is the man,” he said.
Misamis Oriental, with over 860,000 registered voters, is the Northern Mindanao province with the most number of voters.
Local government officials come mostly from the two dominant parties, Liberal Party and the United Nationalist Alliance.
But local journalists say while party alliances will play a part in the elections, many local leaders are expected to support Duterte.
The Misamis Oriental sortie happened as news broke over a new Social Weather Stations surveys which showed Duterte tied for second place with Grace Poe.
Cayetano said: "We are very thankful to everyone for this. We only ask for two things: that you pray for us and listen to our platform."
Recent electoral surveys show Duterte is the top choice for president in Mindanao. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.