Big crowds, rousing welcomes and unequivocal affirmations of support in Maguindanao province and Cagayan de Oro City marked the town hall meetings of presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson in Mindanao on Thursday.
The show of support for Lacson in both areas also belied the projection of a survey firm that he may get zero votes in Mindanao on Election Day.
In Maguindanao, Lacson – accompanied by senatorial candidates Minguita Padilla and Emmanuel Piñol – received an enthusiastic welcome at the Kamasi Multipurpose Hall in Ampatuan town, as some residents lauded him for being the first presidential candidate to visit them.
Related: Ping, Nakatanggap ng Mainit, Umaapaw na Suporta sa Pagbisita sa Mindanao
During the town hall meeting, Lacson brought his and running mate Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III’s message of hope and promise of good governance to residents of Maguindanao. He reiterated his advocacies of ending poverty in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and other parts of the country, by fixing the government’s ills.
“It’s about time na matikman ng ating karaniwang mamamayan… saan mang region, saan mang lalawigan, maramdanan ang biyayang galing sa national government (It’s about time ordinary Filipinos, whether they are from BARMM or anywhere else in the Philippines, to feel the benefits from the national government),” he said.
He likewise fielded questions from participants, including one who asked him for an assurance that his administration will not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members Maguindanao. “You can have that assurance,” Lacson replied, noting his administration will make sure all Filipinos will benefit from good governance, regardless of their inclinations.
“Ang ating battlecry, napakasimple: Aayusin natin ang gobyerno para maging maayos ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino (Our battlecry is very simple: We will fix the government’s ills to improve Filipinos’ lives),” he emphasized.
Maguindanao residents lauded Lacson for being the first presidential candidate to visit them and learn about their problems firsthand. When Lacson asked the audience if they know of any other presidential, vice presidential or senatorial bet who visited them, they answered: “Wala, kayo lang (No one, just you)!”
In Cagayan de Oro City, Lacson, Sotto, Padilla and Pinol received a festive welcome from an even bigger crowd in the afternoon.
With the reception he got Thursday – and similar welcomes in other parts of Mindanao such as Cotabato and Davao in past months – Lacson said he does not feel the supposed zero voters’ preference as projected by Pulse Asia.
He maintained he is not bothered by such survey projections as his conscience is clear. “Kalmado pa rin ako. There is no substitute to clear conscience, wala tayong ginawang masama, malinis ang ating serbisyo, napakaswerte ng Pilipinas kung kaming dalawa ang manalo (I remain calm. There is no substitute for a clear conscience. We did nothing wrong. The Philippines would be lucky if Sotto and I are elected into office).”
On the other hand, Lacson said the zero preference may be a blessing in disguise as his supporters – particularly the Lacson-Sotto Support Group (LSSG) – will be motivated to work harder for his victory.
“Medyo nagagalit at nacha-challenge sila (They felt angry and challenged); they are prompted to do more and work harder,” he said, adding he no longer takes the pre-election surveys seriously as the “actual” survey on May 9 is fast approaching.
“This election will expose the accuracies of the survey. We will see kung zero si Sen. Lacson sa Visayas and Mindanao. I know it is impossible (We will see if Lacson will indeed get zero vote in Visayas and Mindanao. I know it is impossible),” added Sotto.