BARMM, Bulacan leaders back UniTeam

With barely 16 days left before the May 9 elections, governors, mayors, and traditional leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have assured presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and vice presidential bet Sara Duterte of a landslide victory in their region, even as they also vowed to protect the UniTeam tandem’s votes.

BBM IN MANILA. A huge crowd of supporters gives a warm welcome to presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the UniTeam grand rally in Bustillos, Manila on Saturday. Ver Noveno

In a simple program Friday night at the Manila Hotel, the local officials of BARMM also signed an oath of commitment to show their full support for Marcos and Duterte.

With their command votes, the local officials assured that the majority of the almost two million voting population of BARMM would give the landslide victory to Marcos and Duterte in Mindanao.

Nineteen incumbent mayors and several mayoralty candidates from Bulacan province also assured presidential survey frontrunner Marcos Jr. that he would win by landslide in their respective areas in the upcoming national elections.

The mayors gave their assurance during a face-to-face meeting with the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer at his headquarters in Mandaluyong on Friday.


The Bulacan mayors also formally handed their signed manifesto of support for Marcos and his running-mate, “Inday” Sara Duterte.

This developed as a dominant Islamic group in Mindanao on Saturday presented Vice President Leni Robredo what could probably be the best gift for her 57th birthday—a commitment of support to her presidential candidacy.

Meanwhile, Robredo also categorically denied allegations linking her to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Jose Ma. Sison, CPP founder, also issued a statement on Friday saying there is no truth to a report linking the Vice President to the communist group.

“I have not been advising Leni Robredo although I think that she is a far more qualified candidate for president than Ferdinand Jr. who has no qualification but to campaign with too much money from the bureaucratic loot of the late unlamented fascist dictator, Ferdinand Sr.,” Sison posted on his website.

“I have not been consulting with Barry Gutierrez, the spokesman of Robredo,” he added.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) and its political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), formally endorsed Robredo’s presidential bid, saying she rose to the occasion when they needed her.

For the first time ever, the MILF-UBJP would participate in forthcoming May 9 local and national elections since the passage of Republic Act No. 11054, also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

In choosing Robredo, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister and MILF chairman Al-Hadj Murad Ebrahim underscored her unwavering support for the Bangsamoro people.

“At certain points, when we needed allies in Congress, and as Vice President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo was there for us. She was there for Marawi. She makes time for the Bangsamoro. And in the many engagements with her, on specific concerns of the Bangsamoro, we feel her compassion and support. Leni Robredo is not just talk; she acts,” Ebrahim said.

However, incumbent Guiguinto Mayor Ambrosio “Boy” Cruz Jr., president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Bulacan Chapter, said: “Sa amin po iisa lang ang message. Panalo na, kaya lang di tayo puwedeng matulog. At the end of the day bantay pa rin.”

[For us, we have one message: we have won, but we cannot sleep. At the end of the day, we must stay on guard.]

Among the mayors in attendance with Marcos Jr. were Christian Natividad of Malolos, Vergel Meneses of Bulakan, Amboy Manlapaz of Hagonoy with his wife and mayoral candidate Flordeliza Manlapaz, Ferdinand Estrella of Baliuag, Francis Albert Juan of Bustos, and Henry Villarica of Meycauayan.

Also in attendance were Ricardo Silvestre of Marilao, Edwin Santos of Obando, and his wife, Obando mayoralty candidate Esperanza Santos;

Guiguinto mayoralty candidate Agatha Paula Cruz; Crispin Castro of Pandi; Eladio Gonzales Jr. of Balagtas; Jose Santiago Jr. of Bocaue; Arthur Robes of San Jose Del Monte City; Eric Tiongson of San Miguel; Jocell Casaje of Plaridel; Mary Ann Marcos of Paombong, and Leo

Nicolas, representing Norzagaray Mayor Ade Cristobal.

Marcos thanked the mayors and the mayoralty candidates for their endorsement and reiterated the need to be more vigilant as the election nears.

Marcos also said he continues to have a very hectic schedule but expects things to wind down in the coming weeks as the campaign enters the homestretch.

His chief of staff and spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, confirmed the PFP’s training program for poll watchers had started, and the

party has started deploying fully-trained volunteers nationwide.

Some of the Bulacan mayors said that Marcos is leading in a recent internal province-wide survey where he posted a whopping 61% voter preference.

According to Mayor Christian Natividad, in Malolos City, Marcos is polling at 62% versus the 18% of his closest rival in the presidential race.

Marcos also urged the mayors to encourage their constituents to go out and vote on election day, as this would allow them to participate in determining the next leaders of the country.

Despite the encouraging pre-election survey numbers reported by the Bulacan mayors, Marcos still urged them to be on guard to deter would-be attempts to influence the results of elections.

“We know what the people need. You (Marcos) have a good heart. You can really lead the country. All we have to do is support you, to let the people vote for you. For all of us here in our own districts, we have to make this campaign real,” said Rep. Rida Robes of the lone district of the City of San Jose Del Monte, who was also present at the event.

Ebrahim, who is also president of the UBJP, raised Robredo’s hand onstage at the MILF headquarters in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.

He was joined in endorsing Robredo by UBJP candidates in the local polls, namely Maguindanao 1st District Representative Datu Roonie Sinsuat Sr., Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Esmael Mangundadatu, and former Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Bai Sandra Ampatuan-Sema.

“Napakalaking birthday gift po ito para sa akin, maraming salamat,” Robredo said, her smile evident behind her pink face mask.

Robredo, who was a co-author in Congress of the first version of the BOL, then known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, pledged to continue working for peace in Mindanao.

“What I can assure the Bangsamoro people is that a Robredo presidency will be a friend and supporter of the Bangsamoro and a champion of the peace process. My track record as Vice President is my assurance that I will fulfill my commitments. My friendship and support to the

Bangsamoro people have been consistent in the six years that I was Vice President,” Robredo said.

As Vice President, Robredo frequently visited BARMM, having implemented numerous programs across the autonomous region, notably Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Her projects included poverty alleviation programs, sustainable livelihood and training programs, programs on education, health, and

social development, among others.

“Bawat sakuna na nangyayari nandito po ang Office of the Vice President. Noong nangyari ‘yung Marawi siege, in the middle of the siege, nandito na po kami, sa Lanao del Sur, tumutulong,” Robredo recalled.

She also pledged to complete the implementation of the peace agreement and address the remaining gaps in the Bangsamoro transition period.

Robredo has been repeatedly linked to the communist movement, accusations that have ramped up since the election-campaign period.

Last month, she rejected allegations spread through text messages suggesting that she has aligned herself with Sison, founder of the CPP-NDF (National Democratic Front).

Robredo described as such allegations “fake news”, adding that she had directed her lawyers to file the appropriate charges against her


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