CAGAYAN, Philippines – Reelectionist opposition senator Bam Aquino dismissed as a "non-issue" the support of Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba for the candidates of PDP-Laban, President Rodrigo Duterte's party.
Aquino visited Cagayan province on Tuesday, March 19, for a student forum at the University of Cagayan Valley Greyhounds Gymnasium.
In a chance interview, Aquino said he maintains his friendship with Mamba, formerly a Liberal Party (LP) regional chair, despite the latter's endorsement of administration bets.
"Iyong pagkakaibigan po natin kay Governor [Mamba], beyond politics po 'yan, although naiintindihan po natin 'yung kanyang sitwasyon ngayon," Aquino said. (My friendship with Governor [Mamba] is beyond politics, although we understand his situation right now.)
Mamba jumped ship to PDP-Laban after he was elected as governor in Cagayan in 2016. He was a former Cabinet secretary of President Benigno Aquino III, and chaired the LP in Cagayan Valley.
When he was sworn in as PDP-Laban member, he slammed the Aquino administration for supposedly not meeting his expectations in addressing corruption and weakening his political opponents in Cagayan. He also recalled how the camp of LP presidential bet Mar Roxas "betrayed" him when they talked to his rivals in 2016.
Aquino said that since they could no longer expect Mamba to endorse the opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso, they would go directly to Cagayanos in their campaign.
"Pero ngayon, 'yung ikot namin sa mga eskuwelahan at diretso sa mga tao rin. We're quite happy sa mga support that we get here from our friends, at sa mga local leaders din dito," Aquino said.
(For now, we are doing the rounds of schools, and we also go directly to the people. We're quite happy with the support that we get from our friends and local leaders here.)
In his visit in Cagayan on Tuesday, Aquino was joined by the Perezes and Guzmans, two of the influential families in Tuguegarao City. Both families run private schools.
Aquino was the 3rd Otso Diretso bet to visit Cagayan province since the campaign period started. The slate was supposed to hold a rally on March 15, but was canceled due to runway woes.
During the forum, he promised students for more laws promoting affordable and quality education, including one that could help students in their quick employment after graduation.
"We will continue to come back and support ang mga taga Cagayan, kahit po si, of course, including Governor Mamba rin (the people of Cagayan, and of course, including Governor Mamba)," he added. – Rappler.com