By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY – Opposition senatorial candidates barnstormed through two areas in Western Visayas the past two days, seeking to strengthen their bailiwicks and corner the bulk of four million Ilonggo votes for this year’s midterm election in May.
“We intend to maintain the dominance of the opposition in this part of the country,” expressed Senator Franklin Drilon, LP vice chairperson, in a Friday press conference.
A native of Iloilo City, Drilon accompanied the “Otso Deretso” team, which is composed of his fellow Liberal Party (LP) members Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino, Erin Tañada and Samira Gutoc, and allies former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.
But this early, Drilon, who is not running in the May 2019 elections, admitted that it is going to be a huge challenge for the opposition to prevail in the region comprised of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental because many local politicians have since jumped to the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) after Roxas lost to President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 presidential race.
“We are hamstrung with the lack of resources. That is not a secret. But we will overcome that by directly going to the people,” Drilon said.
With many candidates anchoring their campaign on human rights and justice, the opposition believes it can secure majority of the four million votes in Western Visayas.
Tañada said the region’s voters study the background of candidates and are aware of their platforms.
Alejano, who hails from Sipalay City in Negros Occidental, said the people of the region should support the opposition candidates to put a stop to the tirades of President Duterte.
President Duterte has repeatedly tagged Iloilo to be “shabulized” (in reference to shabu) and “bedrock of illegal drugs”.
Alejano said that if Duterte’s senatorial candidates win, then the attacks against those from Western Visayas would continue.
Aquino said he believes voters in the region are clamoring for different types of leaders amidst changing times.