'Wary of cheating?': Marcos tackles 'vote protection' with govs

UniTeam presidential bet Bongbong Marcos would rather make moves to ensure the protection of this votes on election day than engage his rivals in another presidential debate.

Presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos (Noel Pabalate/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Marcos met with a handful of incumbent governors on Sunday night, April 3 at his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City. The "informal but intimate" meeting with the local chief executives coincided with the second Comission on Elections (Comelec)-sponsored presidential debate.

“Vote protection, yun ang aming napag-usapan (that's what we discussed)," Marcos said in a statement Monday, April 4, in reference to the meeting with governors.

"Para makatiyak tayo na maganda ang takbo ng halalan. Mabilang lahat ng boto at hindi magka-problema (This is to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections. To ensure that all votes would get counted and problems would be avoided),” added survey leader Marcos, who is the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer.

An attendee in the meeting who declined to be named told this reporter that Marcos's call for vote protection was premised on the latter's fear of "possible cheating" come May 9.

"He's wary of what's going on with Smartmatic, the alleged data leaks, and possible cheating. He wants to win big so that he won't get cheated out of the results," the attendee said of the former senator and Ilocos Norte governor.

The governors were led by Quirino Governor Dakila Cua, president of Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).

Also present were Governors Imelda Dimaporo, of Lanao del Norte; Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III, of La Union; Nancy Catamco, of Cotabato; Esteban Evan Contreras, of Capiz; Damian Mercado, of Southern Leyte; Ferdinand Tubban of Kalinga; Joy Bernos of Abra; Jerry Dalipog of Ifugao; and Camiguin gubernatorial bet Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo.

The attending governors covered Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

“Yung ating mga kasamahan na dumalo (Our colleagues who attended) tonight voluntarily supporting our friend and our presidentiable, Senator BBM (Bongbong Marcos). Aside from that, it’s an open dialogue para makuha naman ang concern at mga pangangailangan at mga prayoridad ng ibat -ibang gobernador (aimed at getting the concerns, needs, and priorities of the different governors from) all over the country,” Cua said.

Romualdo, for his part, shared that Marcos told them he would continue to "campaign hard" despite his big survey lead over his Palace seat rivals.

"While the surveys do point to a BBM win, what’s important is that the survey numbers translate to actual votes on election day. After all, it’s the votes cast on election day that determines who the next president will be and not the surveys. So while the survey numbers may look good, for BBM there’s no room for complacency and he said that he’ll continue to campaign hard. On our part, we’ll also campaign strongly for him," said Romualdo, who is currently a House deputy majority leader.

Marcos welcomed the support and endorsement of the local chief executives for him and the entire UniTeam.

“Maraming salamat po sa suporta. Pagtulungan natin na mapaunlad ang ating bansa at mga mamamayan (Thank you very much for your support. Let's cooperate in ensuring progress for both our country and our people),” Marcos said.

The PFP standard-bearer also skipped the first Comelec presidential debate two weeks ago.