By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY—Majority of senatorial candidates under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party were not present at the Tuesday afternoon rally in Passi City, Iloilo province.
Only Senators Cynthia Villar and JV Ejercito, as well as candidates Pia Cayetano and Imee Marcos, attended the rally hosted by the group led by Iloilo 4th District Rep. Ferj Biron, who is running for governor of Iloilo.
Biron told the local media that other senatorial candidates and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is HNP’s head, had other prior schedules including the grand rally Tuesday night at Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
“But they have their representatives here,” Biron added.
Of the four candidates, Villar and Ejercito are usually in Iloilo. It is mainly because of an affinity to Iloilo, the regional capital of Western Visayas. Villar’s father-in-law and the father of former Senator Manny Villar hail from Cabatuan town, Iloilo. Ejercito’s mother is from Bacolod City.
While Iloilo was previously a bailiwick of the Liberal Party (LP), voters have mixed feelings with the administration’s bet. This is mainly due to the constant attacks of President Duterte, who dubbed Iloilo as “shabulized” and the “bedrock” of illegal drug trade.