Partido Federal ng Pilipinas presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., has gained the support of a prominent political bloc in Manila led by the son of the late mayor Mel Lopez Jr.
A lawyer by profession, Alex Lopez is the official mayoralty candidate of the PFP in Manila. He personally took his oath as party member on Wednesday at the BBM Headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
Lopez said he will formally file his certificate of candidacy on Friday under the Comelec rules of substitution from mayoralty candidate Calvin Punzalan. His running mate is actor Raymond Bagatsing.
Meanwhile, Marcos Jr. has expressed apprehension that the successful campaign of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) may be put to waste after the Senate slashed the agency’s budget for 2022 by P24 billion.
The former senator stressed he was saddened by the Senate’s decision to reduce the budget of NTF-ELCAC to P4 billion from the proposed P28.12 billion budget for next year.
“It is unfortunate that the good start of the agency may be ignored and go to waste. We know that we need enough funds to stop the insurgency that we have been fighting for five decades,” Marcos said.
Lopez said he has chosen to endorse Marcos because of his track record and credibility as a unifying leader.
“Since I see the Philippines, it is time for us to restore the spirit and vision of ascension. The rise of the Philippines is up to Bongbong,” Lopez said, as he vowed to deliver the majority votes in Manila this coming May 2022 national elections.
Manila has about one million registered voters.
During the 2016 national elections, the Lopez voting bloc in the capital city supported the candidacy of Marcos for vice-president.
Alex is the eldest son of Mayor Mel, while his wife Sara is the daughter of former Vice President Salvador “Doy” Laurel.
Both VP Laurel and Mayor Mel were known opposition leaders during the Martial Law era, but their political bias apparently hasn’t been passed on to the next generation.
“This is to bury the ghost of the past for progress and reconciliation,” Alex added.
“I can see the changes in BBM. He has the vision. He has the training. He has the dedication and BBM has a very good heart, and he has the vision for a better Philippines,” stressed Lopez.
Lopez expressed that whatever mistakes there may have been in the past can now be corrected because of BBM’s apparent kindness of spirit and love of country.
“He’s seeing the mistakes of the past and with all of these, I think it can bring a bright future to the country,” said Lopez.
Although Marcos acknowledged that the government funding should be focused on the fight against COVID-19, he stressed that the country must also prioritize the fight against any government threat and insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Records from the NTF-ELCAC show a total of 882 barangays in the country have been cleared from the terrorist group NPA from 2016 to 2019.
According to NTF-ELCAC, from its P16.44 billion budget this year, most of which went to its flagship program, the Barangay Development Program (BDP).
Development package incentives of P20 million were provided to each barangay cleared of communist influence, including the construction of farm-to-market roads, health stations, classrooms, water sanitation systems, rural electrification, and other livelihood programs.
“If they are stopped (funding the NTF-ELCAC), it is frightening to think that the barangays that have been cleared of the rebels will return to their old habit of fighting the government. Our legislators should think about it carefully,” Marcos warned.
Marcos added that he fully supports any government campaign against insurgency in the country to once and for all end this hindrance to progress especially in the countryside.