Otso Diretso to make last stand in miting de avance at UP Diliman

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – All roads will lead to Quezon City for Otso Diretso as the opposition senatorial slate is set to hold its miting de avance at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus on Wednesday, May 8. 

For the 3rd and final time during the official campaign period, all 8 senatorial bets will share one stage: Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, ex-solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, ex-interior chief Mar Roxas, and ex-Quezon congressman Erin Tañada.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, campaign manager of Otso Diretso, told Rappler that they chose to hold the miting de avance at UP as it is a "bastion of freedom and democracy." He added that the National Capital Region, where the university is found, is the "nation's media center."

Pangilinan also said two stalwarts of the Liberal Party (LP) are congressmen in Quezon City: 6th District Representative Kit Belmonte, the party secretary general, and 3rd District Representative Bolet Banal.

"Both have been playing key roles in helping run the national campaign," said Pangilinan.

All of the Otso Diretso bets were winners in various mock polls conducted by different UP campuses nationwide in the past weeks. (READ: Who are winning in campus mock senatorial polls?)

The LP-led opposition coalition will be in full force for Otso Diretso. Key opposition leaders will be attending the event, including Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also LP chairperson; former president Benigno Aquino III, who is LP chairman emeritus; and opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros.

A thanksgiving Mass will first be held at the UP Chapel before the Otso Diretso candidates and their supporters will proceed to the UP Sunken Garden for the main event. 

Called "ThisIs8!", the miting de avance is also being branded as a thanksgiving concert for Otso Diretso's thousands of volunteers, many of whom did door-to-door campaigning and spent their own money to print flyers and posters for the slate.

Otso Diretso, however, does not want to call the event a miting de avance despite it being the final pre-election gathering the candidates and their allies from the opposition coalition.

"We wish to clarify that this movement does not ascribe to such traditional notions of campaigning. Lumang galawan ang kampanya na natatapos sa isang serye ng mga trapo sa entablado, kung saan pulitiko ang bida, pulitiko na naman ang dapat iangat sa pedestal," said Robredo's spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.

"This is a thanksgiving event: All-out pasasalamat sa mga volunteer na naging lakas ng kampanya, at nagiging punla ng mas maayos na pakikilahok sa ating buhay-pulitika," he added.

The following local bands and spoken word artists are performing during Otso Diretso's miting de avance:

It's rare for Otso Diretso's campaign events to feature performances, given the slate's limited campaign funds and the few politicians willing to endorse them publicly. This has forced the senatorial lineup to turn to a volunteer-driven campaign.

In the Pulse Asia survey conducted in April, only Aquino made it to the "Magic 12" or the so-called winners' circle. But the Otso Diretso bets are unfazed, banking on the support of their volunteers to propel them to the Senate. (READ: Will it be enough? Otso Diretso turns to volunteers to boost struggling campaign– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.