DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe on Friday, February 12, revisited the vote-rich province of Pangasinan and the city of San Carlos, in a move seen to consolidate votes in the late action star Fernando Poe Jr’s (FPJ) hometown.
It was Poe’s second visit to San Carlos City and her 5th to the province. The first time she visited San Carlos was in August 2015, weeks before she declared her bid for the presidency.
Asked about the frequent visits to the 3rd most vote-rich province, Poe said she still has family members in the province since FPJ was born there.
“Unang-una, may mga kamag-anak pa rin kami dito. Pangalawa, malaki talaga ang naitutulong ng Pangasinan sa pagkilala sa akin bilang kababayan dahil sa aking tatay,” Poe told reporters in an ambush interview in this city.
(First of all, we still have relatives here. Second, Pangasinan really helps me by recognizing me as someone from here because of my father.)
In a political rally in the evening, Poe repeatedly mentioned FPJ’s name before her “kababayans” as she sought their help in the upcoming elections.
“Kaya mga kababayan, inaalay ko sa inyo, mga taga-Pangasinan, ang aking takbong ito. Sapagka't dahil sa inyo na hindi sumuko sa akin, na hindi sumuko sa aking pamilya, na patuloy ang iyong pagsuporta, ako’y nabibigyan ng lakas at inspirasyon na gawin ang nararapat para maiantas ang buhay ng ating kababayan,” Poe said.
(My provincemates, I offer to you, people of Pangasinan, this presidential bid. Because you never gave up on me, on my family, and you continue to support me, I am given the strength and inspiration to do what is right to improve the lives of our people.)
Mum on local support
Poe did not mention anything definite when asked if she is relying on anyone or any group to deliver votes for her in the province.
Poe only said: “Ang inaahasan ko ay ang suporta ng ating mga kababayan na titingnan nila ang mga plataporma namin at pagkatao ng mga tumatakbo. Tuwing pumupunta ako dito sa Pangasinan, very heartwarming ang pagtanggap lagi.”
(I am banking on our people's support for me, that they will look at our platforms and the character of candidates. Everytime I go to Pangasinan, the welcome for me is always very heartwarming.)
Local politics in the province is murkier than national alliances. Governor Amado Espino Jr earlier resigned from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, widely believed to be backing Poe’s candidacy. (READ: LP walks tightrope in vote-rich Pangasinan after NPC breakup)
His former partymate and Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco is now running for governor against his son, provincial board member Amado Espino III. Cojuangco’s wife Kimi and Governor Espina Jr, meanwhile, are battling it out for 5th district representative.
While there have been no official announcements yet, sources close to the Liberal Party say Espino is set to endorse standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II soon.
Cojuangco, on the other hand, is a known supporter of Vice President Jejomar Binay. His ally Abono partylist chairman Rosendo So, meanwile, supports Poe’s candidacy.
In fact, as early as August 2015 when Poe had not yet announced her bid, some people handing out campaign paraphernalia on the ground said the materials were from So.
Vice presidential Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, who hails from the region, is also said to be enjoying the support of local politicians.
Despite the convoluted local scene, Poe's numbers show her strength in the province. In 2013, Commission on Elections data show that Poe topped the senatorial polls in the province with 818,598 votes. Escudero ranked 5th with 629,164.
But in 2010, Benigno Aquino III and his then running mate Roxas won in the province as well. – Rappler.com