By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday made a last pitch for votes for Otso Diretso candidates during a thanksgiving concert held at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City.
“Limang araw na lang, lalong dagdag iyong ating energy, lalong dagdag ang ating commitment. Otso Diretso para sa Senado,” Robredo, the leader of the opposition, said.
(Five days before the elections, we have more energy and commitment. Let us vote for Otso Diretso in the Senate.)
When Robredo spoke onstage, it started raining, but the sizeable crowd stayed put to hear her brief speech.
The Vice President rallied the audience to support Otso Diretso candidates, most of whom have been lagging behind in pre-election surveys.
In a show of force, thousands of supporters and volunteers of the opposition senatorial slate flocked to the UP Sunken Garden for their concert dubbed “ThisIs8!”
A mass was held at the Parish of Holy Sacrifice inside the UP Diliman campus before the Otso Diretso candidates marched to the main event.
It was the third time the eight members of opposition slate were complete since the campaign period started.
The Otso Diretso bets are lawyers Chel Diokno, Romulo Macalintal, and Florin Hilbay, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, former lawmakers Mar Roxas and Erin Tañada, and reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino.
The concert was filled with song-and-dance numbers, with the eight candidates taking turns to speak before the crowd and entertain them.
They sang the song “Salamat” for their rain-soaked supporters.
“This is like a symbol of our campaign. No matter what they throw at us, you’re still here,” reelectionist Senator Aquino told the audience in Filipino.
Aquino said the volunteers were the “spirit and blood” behind Otso Diretso’s campaign.
The lack of campaign funds, machinery, and support from local politicians has forced the survey laggard opposition ticket to turn to a volunteer-driven campaign.
Like the senator, opposition senatorial bets Roxas and Hilbay also appreciated what their supporters did for Otso Diretso during the grueling campaign.
“From our family, from our hearts, we will never forget your company, support, and trust to all of us. Thank you very much,” Roxas, a former senator and interior secretary, said.
“Whatever happened, we have already won. We have built a very huge family in Otso Diretso. The backbone of the campaign is our people,” Hilbay, who was a solicitor general during the previous Aquino administration, said.
While thanking their volunteers, human rights lawyer Diokno cracked a joke and refrained from giving out their names during his speech.
“All of you volunteers are really close to my heart as if you are like my children. You are all like the Chel-dren of Chel,” he said in jest.
“You know, with this campaign, many people helped us. Of course, my natural, biological children and my siblings. I won’t tell their names because they might be included in the matrix,” Diokno said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Otso Diretso did not want to call the event a miting de avance even as it was a pre-election gathering of the eight candidates, with their allies, volunteers and supporters.
“We wish to clarify that this movement does not ascribe to such traditional notions of campaigning,” said Vice Presidential spokesperson and Otso Diretso supporter Barry Gutierrez said.
“This is a thanksgiving event: All-out pasasalamat sa mga volunteer na naging lakas ng kampanya, at nagiging punla ng mas maayos na pakikilahok sa ating buhay-pulitika,” he added.
“This is a gathering of people aligned by values: We believe in honesty in governance. We resolve to fight for clean and honest elections,” said Gutierrez.
Apart from Robredo, the other opposition leaders who were in attendance were opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Francis Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros. Pangilinan is Otso Diretso’s campaign manager.
The performers at the concert were True Faith, Paraluman, Jana Garcia, Better Days, Bayang Barrios, Noel Cabangon, Bituin Escalante, and Color it Red with Cooky Chua. #MatalinongBoto2019