Supporters of presidential aspirant Leni Robredo from all over Davao region on Tuesday launched the "Davao for Leni Movement", calling themselves "myth busters" who are out to prove that there's no such thing as a "Solid South" vote in the 2022 elections.
With most members identifying themselves as "ex-DDS" (former diehard Duterte supporters), the group expressed support for opposition leader Robredo despite difficulties of doing it in the bailiwick of the Dutertes.
President Rodrigo Duterte, the family patriarch, is setting aside retirement for a senatorial bid while daughter Sara, incumbent city mayor, is being eyed as presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos' vice president.
"Ang ating presenya sa Zoom gathering natin ngayon is a testament dili tanang Dabawenyo DDS (diehard Duterte supporters)," lawyer Meong Cabarde Jr., the event host, said.
The group claims a membership of some 200 people scattered in many parts of ther Davao region, the Philippines, and abroad. Many of the members are development workers, women's rights activists, human right rights advocates, teachers, and health professionals, most of who belong to the youth segment.
“Maselan ang sitwasyon sa Davao. Pero di tayo natitinag. Padayon lang," Cabarde said, noting that throughout the Duterte administration, members in their individual capacities fought against the current administration's policies, including the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao and the president's misogynistic remarks.
Among them is a Duterte kin, who was featured in a video, explaining why she's voting for vice president Leni Robredo next year alongside other members.
"Bakit si Leni? Dahil marunong siyang magprioritize at umaksyon agad pagdating sa emergencies," Nuelle Duterte, the president's niece, said.
One Malu Abella said she was voting for Robredo due to her clean record. "Nganong si Leni? Wa na'y laing maayo kundi si Leni. Dili kurap, dili kabahin sa isa ka dinastiya, nagtahud sa rule of law, [ug] nagtahud sa human rights," she said.
(Why Leni? There's no better candidate than Leni. She's not corrupt, does not come from a political dynasty, respects the rule of law, and has regard for human rights.)
In the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo placed third in Davao region, garnering 233,920 votes while Marcos, Jr. placed second with 467,186 votes. Duterte's runningmate, former senator Alan Peter Cayetano took the most votes at 1,074, 658.
"Mahaba-haba pa ang ating laban. Tumindig kayo dahil kasama ninyo akong titindig. Tiwala akong kayang-kaya nating marating ang Pilipinas na pinapangarap natin," Robredo said in a pre-recorded video for the group, thanking them for their defiant support.
Her runningmate, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan who was in attendance, recalled how in 2016, Robredo was repeatedly told not to campaign in Ilocos, the "Solid North" bailiwick of the Marcoses.
"But she went anyway. Interesting enough because you know, she was able to get around a little over 200,000 votes in Region 1, Ilocos Region. Lo and behold, she won by 260,000 votes," he said.
"Every vote counts. Every effort will be precious and we will look for those votes everywhere, even in Davao City for those who wish to support us," he said.