Show of force: 28,000 witness PDP-Laban oath-taking in Bulacan

RULING PARTY. Top officials lead the oath-taking of new members in Bulacan. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

RULING PARTY. Top officials lead the oath-taking of new members in Bulacan.

Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

BULACAN, Philippines – There were jokes from a local celebrity, cash “prizes” for audience members who were willing to be part of the entertainment, speeches from potential senatorial candidates, and the token confetti to cap off the day.

On a hot and dry Monday morning, over 28,000 people from all parts of the vote-rich Bulacan province trooped to the Malolos City Sports and Convention Center for the oath-taking of the ruling party's new members.

No less than the party’s top leaders – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez – led the mass oath-taking on March 12.

As with their gatherings in other parts of the country, members of the House and Duterte appointees who had been floated as potential senatorial bets in 2019 tagged along and gave speeches before a crowd of incumbent and aspiring barangay leaders.

Representatives Reynaldo Umali, Monsour del Rosario, Geraldine Roman, and Karlo Nograles were among the House members who graced the event. Palace spokesman Harry Roque and presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino also spoke during the gathering.

Lawmakers and appointed officials took turns talking about key legislation passed under the 17th Congress, including the free tuition law and a law that would make irrigation free for farmers.

Another recurring push was for that of a federal system of government.

Federalism is among Duterte and the PDP-Laban’s key advocacies. Both chambers of Congress are tackling the proposal, even as a Duterte-formed Consultative Committee is drafting its own proposals.

Duterte won in the province of Bulacan, home to at least 1.5 million voters during the 2016 elections. He got a little over half a million votes while his nearest rival, Senator Grace Poe, trailed with over 400,000 votes.

Bulacan – or at least, its leaders – used to be allied with the Liberal Party, which ruled under the previous administration. Most key officials have switched parties since then.

Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, speaking before the crowd, acknowledged that she too once wore yellow but she switched sides because it was important to work together with the administration.

PDP-Laban auditor and top presidential aide Bong Go was initially announced to be among the guests at the Bulacan oath taking, but he did not show up during the Monday program. –