In front of the Palacio del Governador in Intramuros, Manila, just beside the historic Manila Cathedral, hundreds of supporters of Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte have gathered since yesterday to await for the arrival of the man they would like to be the next President of the country.
The Duterte camp announced over the weekend that the last minute substitute for PDP Laban presidential bet Martin Diño will visit the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office today for formalise the filing of his COC for President which was submitted last weekend by his lawyer.
They spent the night in vigil bringing with them their own food and water.
What makes the sight odd though is that there are actually two groups – one rooting for vice presidential candidate and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and the other supporting another vp bet, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
They try to out-shout each other but there is no animosity.
Both groups are bound by a common desire – they are both shouting for real change in a country faced with serious drugs, criminality and corruption problems.
Both groups agree that the man who could bring the dreamed change is the tough-talking and cussing provincial politician who rose to national prominence for transforming his city from a Killing Fields of Communist assassins to one of the safest cities in the world to live in which was spread by word of mouth.
The scene of two groups with different vice presidential bets united by a common desire to see Duterte become President is happening all over the country.
It is more pronounced in Mindanao, the Southern Island where Duterte comes from where people have long dreamed of producing a President from among them.
The closest they got was the Vice Presidency through Emmanuel Pelaez of Misamis Oriental and Teofisto Guingona of Bukidnon who became vice president when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was installed President following the ouster of Joseph Estrada in 2001.
Now, Mindanaoans smell the scent of the Presidency and the results of the recent surveys conducted by two of the country’s leading polling firms show that Duterte is well ahead of the pack.
In Mindanao today, political groups fighting for local positions agree on one thing – their own people would like Duterte to become President.
The pressure comes from the people and astute politicians know that it would be disastrous to go against the will of the people.
In the Davao Region last week, top leaders of the ruling Liberal Party have jumped ship and declared support for Duterte.
In General Santos City over the weekend, Saranggani Congressman Manny Pacquiao, who is eyeing a Senate seat, was jolted by the information that almost of the leaders of his People’s Champ Movement (PCM) are supporting Duterte.
Pacquiao, a close friend of Duterte, filed his candidacy under the UNA Party of Vice President Jejomar Binay after the Davao Mayor told him he was not running for President.
“Kung manalo si Rody, masaya ako siempre kaibigan ko. Kung manalo si VP Binay, masaya din ako dahil kapartido ko,” he said.
It is widely believed, however, that with almost all of his leaders and his own people declaring support for Duterte, Pacquiao would either go with the current silently or openly declare support for his friend shortly before election day.
With Duterte leading in the surveys, other Mindanao politicians, especially the Bangsamoro leaders, are expected to throw their support to Mindanao’s first real presidential contender.
“You cannot go against the will of the people. They want real change,” said former transportation secretary Pantaleon Alvarez, who is eyeing to regain his Congressional seat in Davao del Norte.
Things are different now.
The politicians are in command.
The masses are calling for real change and they are calling the shots.
(Photo caption: Supporters of two Vice Presidential candidates – Alan Peter Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. join ranks to support a common presidential candidate, Rody Duterte, in front of the COMELEC office.)