Under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates vying to be the country's next president and vice president kickstarted the official campaign season for the 2022 national elections today, Feb. 8.
With 90 days to make their case for the Philippine public until the May 9 elections, candidates outlined their raft of proposals and promises in rallies attended by their political allies and, in many cases, burnished with celebrity cameos.
Here are the key highlights.
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio officially launched their presidential and vice-presidential campaign at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Tuesday, Feb. 8 for the May 2022 polls.
In his speech, Marcos Jr. mainly reiterated that his plan for his administration is to bring unity.
“Ang pagkakaisa ang adhikain ko dahil sa aking paniniwala ang pagkakaisa ang unang hakbang upang tayo ay makaraos dito sa gitna ng krisis ng pandemya,” said Marcos. Jr.
His speech, however, did not detail any specific programs he is planning to implement apart from his emphasizing his message of unity.
Thousands of BBM-Sara supporters were present at the event, where the UniTeam introduced their senatorial lineup, including Juan Miguel Zubiri, Gilbert Teodoro, Mark Villar, Sherwin Gatchalian, Larry Gadon, Loren Legarda, Gringo Honasan, Jinggoy Estrada, Harry Roque, Herbert Bautista, and Rodante Marcoleta.
Among the notable people who graced the affair and expressed their support for the tandem were former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, award-winning writer Njel de Mesa, singer-actress Karla Estrada, and singer Toni Gonzaga, who hosted the event.
'I get things done'
Presidential candidate Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who is running under the Aksyon Demokratiko ticket, kicked off his campaign by attending Mass at the Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish, followed by a seven-hour “Blue Wave” caravan around the city.The motorcade took longer than expected, which pushed back the proclamation rally held at the Kartilya ng Katipunan an hour late.
The by-invitation-only event saw Domagoso’s supporters in politics, which included Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano, Pateros Mayor Miguel “Ike” Ponce, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, and House Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia. A video of Senator Ralph Recto endorsing Domagoso was also piped in during the event.
Also at the rally were vice presidential candidate Dr. Willie Ong, and senatorial candidates lawyers Samira Gutoc and Jopet Sison and Dr. Carl Balita.
In jeans, white hoodie, and Superstar sneakers, Domagoso worked the crowd with his 25-minute speech that mostly highlighted how the families and political parties of two of his biggest opponents—former senator Bongbong Marcos and Vice President Leni Robredo—were in power for a total of 39 years.
“After 39 years, kumusta na kaya ang buhay niyo? Kumusta na ang Pilipinas? Yan po ang isa sa mga naging dahilan kung bakit ako sumali sa halalang ito,” said Domagoso.
“Sabi ng mga kasabihan, kung ikaw ay umaasa na may bagong mangyari sa buhay mo ay kailangan gumawa ka rin ng ibang bagay. Because if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, don’t expect different results.”
Domagoso acknowledged his opponents capabilities and intentions in running but laid out the reasons why he is the one to vote for the highest position in the land.
“Maaring mas magaling sila sa akin, pero I get things done. I listen to specialists. I listen to good people with good intentions. I listen sa mga taong sertipikadong magagaling sa kanilang mga larangan. After talking to them, we always come up with a solution,” he said.
'Panalo sa laban'
Dubbing himself as the “Man of Destiny,” senator and global boxing icon Manny Pacquiao’s first day of his uphill battle toward the presidency started in the GenSan Oval Plaza in General Santos City.
Pacquiao, whose presidential bid centers on fighting poverty and corruption, kicked off his campaign in his hometown. His running mate and Buhay party-list rep. Lito Atienza, however, launched his vice presidential bid through a virtual call due to a “sprain.” In a video message, Atienza said he was ready to “quit politics” but Pacquiao’s offer made him reconsider his decision.
“By the grace of God, sisiguraduhin ko na ang bawat isa sa bawat Pilipino ay panalo sa laban ni Manny Pacquiao,” said Pacquiao.
The senator was joined by senatorial aspirants Raffy Tulfo and Lutgardo Barbo, his wife Jinkee, mother Dionesia, and former beauty queen Bianca Manalo who represented Sherwin Gatchalian.
Other senatorial aspirants including former vice president Jejomar Binay, Chiz Escudero, JV Ejercito, and Loren Legarda, among others, sent recorded messages to the proclamation rally.
Pacquiao is running under the Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives (PROMDI) alongside Atienza.
'Aayusin ang gobyerno'
At the Imus Grandstand in Cavite, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson kicked off his election campaign for president alongside running mate Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, promising to fix the ills of the government.
In their speeches, the two candidates highlighted their 83 years of total experience in public service, claiming they never accepted bribes in their careers. “Ni minsan, hindi kami tumanggap ng suhol kapalit ng serbisyo publiko,” Lacson said.
Lacson and Sotto also pushed their platform of “fixing the ills” of the government and restoring the public’s trust in it by getting rid of corrupt public officials.
“Ang aming battlecry: aayusin ang gobyerno para maging maayos ang bawat buhay ng Pilipino. Bakit tayo mahirap? Dahil ang binoboto natin ang nagpeperwisyo,” the presidential bet added, urging voters to choose the next leader wisely.
They were joined at the rally by senatoriables Loren Legarda, Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero, Senator Dick Gordon, former senator JV Ejercito, Senator Migz Zubiri, Former ICT secretary Gringo Honasan, Senator Win Gatchalian, former Makati Rep. Monsour Del Rosario, former Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol, former Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, and Department of Health adviser Dra. Minguita Padilla.
The Senate president’s brother and Eat Bulaga co-host Vic Sotto also made an appearance at the campaign launch, endorsing the tandem.
The grand rally was held at the Imus Grandstand in Lacson’s hometown. Cavite is also known as the second most vote-rich province in the Philippines with both Lacson and Sotto receiving wide support from the Caviteño voters during the 2016 elections.
Vice President Leni Robredo and her vice presidential running mate Kiko Pangilinan held her proclamation rally in her hometown of Naga City in Camarines Sur.
In her speech, Robredo noted how Bicol was not only the place of her birth, but also of her political awakening.
“Dito ko sa naga nakita na ang luma at bulok na klase ng pulitika kayang talunin ng matino, mahusay masipag, at makataong pamamahala,” Robredo said.
Supporters clad in the campaign color’s signature pink trooped to the Plaza Quezon. The rally had a number of celebrities including Cherry Pie Picache, Rita Avila, Pinky Amador, Iza Calzado, Jolina Magdangal, Sharon Cuneta, and Nikki Valdez, who served as host for the online feed.
In keeping with her previous statements, Robredo said her plan once elected is to focus on uplifting marginalized Filipinos through an efficient and honest government.
“Sa ating pamamahala, laylayan ang magiging bagong sentro,” said Robredo.
The ticket’s senatorial slate also took turns at the microphone, including human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, detained Senator Leila De Lima who gave a recorded video message, Antonio Trillanes IV, former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, as well as reelectionist bets Senator Richard Gordon and Senator Risa Hontiveros.
OPM band Rivermaya ended the program by performing their song Liwanag sa Dilim.
Presidential aspirant Leodegario “Leody” De Guzman and his running mate, UP professor Walden Bello, have kicked off their campaign along with the Partido Lakas ng Masa party list at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, despite not securing a permit from Comelec.
Joining the tandem for the proclamation rally are three senatorial bets: Atty. Luke Espiritu and environmental activists, Roy Carbonegro and David D’Angelo; and five nominees of the PLM party list: Baldwin Sykimte, Lidy Nacpil, Flora Asiddad-Santos, Manny Toribio, and Julius Panday.
De Guzman and his allies assured their supporters of their overall vision for his office where the marginalized sectors such as the working class, farmers, and women, will be put front and center. “Ang panawagan natin: Manggagawa naman,” De Guzman said.
This campaign rally maintained the identity of being for the masses as the organizers did not invite any other key personality or celebrity to draw support for the candidates.
Comelec director Atty. Elaiza David stated during the commission’s press conference earlier today, Feb. 8, that the lack of permit from the De Guzman-Bello-PLM rally constitutes a violation of the campaign guidelines and may lead to a sanction on the said candidates.