No local politicians, but Bataan residents raise Leni-Kiko’s hands

"Itataas namin ang kamay ninyo hanggang sa dulo ng laban. Hindi namin isusuko ang Bataan!" In the absence of local politicians' support, thousands of Kakampinks show up for VP Leni Robredo & Sen. Kiko Pangilinan in Balanga as their proxies to traditional power. STORY: No local politicians, but Bataan residents raise Leni-Kiko’s hands

BALANGA, Bataan, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo knew very well she was entering enemy territory when she, as a presidential candidate, stepped into Bataan province on Tuesday.

Not only did she lose in this province in the 2016 vice presidential race, but most of its local politicians had already endorsed her chief rival, the late dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Even so, some 65,000 Kakampinks, according to police, came to welcome her and her running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan in Balanga on Tuesday, armed with placards that poked fun at recent calls for her to withdraw from the presidential race.

“We were admittedly nervous because we don’t have many allies here,” Robredo told the pink-clad crowd.

“But you have shown us the power of the people…[Nothing] is more fulfilling for us than having our hands raised by ordinary Filipinos.”

The Robredo People’s Council-Bataan — the main volunteer group that organized the rally — promised to “raise their hands until the end of this fight.”

We will not surrender Bataan!” the group said in Filipino.

This is not the first time Bataan — considered a so-called Solid North province, though it’s part of Central Luzon — “surprised” Robredo.

In January, when she visited St. Joseph Cathedral to meet with the bishop of Balanga, hundreds of her supporters showed up for her.

Robredo said she thought she would never see the likes of that crowd again here. But on Tuesday, ordinary people once again made a show of force for them: Bataan’s priests and lawyers and indigenous peoples, who descended their mountainous homes to stand in solidarity with them.

In raising their hands, the sectors vouched for their character and said they were the most qualified candidates to lead the country out of its current crises.

The priests, in particular, said they have sought the Lord for guidance and discernment before making a call, and they have “chosen to answer to the call to stand for the country for Sen. Kiko and VP Leni.”

Representatives of the Central Luzon Lawyers for Leni — composed of 155 lawyers from seven provinces in the central region — also raised their hands and vowed to “stand with you in your fight for the betterment of Filipino lives.

These endorsements of ordinary people are now being weaved into the fabric of their people-led campaign, in a bid to show that “no amount of money or machinery can trump the love that people show to their country.”

“During elections, usually, the highlights are the local officials, governors, mayors and congressmen who ally with you,” Robredo noted. “But now this has become irrelevant, because the people themselves are choosing to fight for their country.”

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