SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA — After a number of traditional politicians and political operators have endorsed only presidential aspirant Leni Robredo, her running-mate Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan could not hold back tears as a group of farmers appeared on stage after his speech here Saturday night and raised his hands in a firm support for his vice-presidential bid.
“Tumindig tayo para sa magsasaka, ngayon sila naman ang naninindigan para sa atin, maraming salamat po,” he said, after welcoming the farmers to the stage.
The farmers from San Nicolas, San Simon, Pampanga who raised the hands of Pangilinan and Vice-President Leni Robredo in front of an estimated 220,000 crowd were: Virgilio “Tatay Neg” Alfaro, 87 years old, who has been farming for 69 years; Felino “Tatay Feling” Macapagal, 78 years old, who has been farming for 63 years; Renante Quintana, 41, who has been farming for 30 years; Geronimo Santos, 53, for 35 years; Reymon Tomas, 33, for 18 years; Jun Alfaro, 35, for 19 years; Darius Simbulan, 46, for 25 years; Reynold Alfaro, 39, for 16 years; Juanito Manaloto, 41, for 23 years; and Darren Simbulan, 34, who has been farming for 10 years.
“Kahit simpleng tao lang kami, ipapanalo namin sina Sir Kiko at Maam Leni. Nagpunta kami rito kahit ng may trabaho kami,” said Darren Simbulan.
“Leni-Kiko tayo,” he added.
Pangilinan, an advocate for agriculture, responded by saying that the will of the people will ultimately prevail over any other political endorsement.
“Iyong ilang pulitiko…hindi naman natin sila pwede ipwersa, karapatan nila na mag-endorso. Pero para sa taumbayan, Leni-Kiko pa rin,” he said.
“Patunay ito na ang ating lakas ay hindi lang sa politiko manggagaling, kundi magsasaka, mangingisda, manggagawa, sa taumbayan,” Pangilinan said.
The vice-presidential candidate was thanking the audience when wife, megastar Sharon Cuneta, announced that guests have arrived to endorse Pangilinan.
The scene was also a tearful reunion for Pangilinan and Tatay Neg, who has been a constant feature in many of the senator’s speeches about his advocacy for farmers and fishers.
Pangilinan has visited the San Simon farmers for a dialogue on how to revive agriculture and uplift their condition.
Tatay Neg started farming at age 20 and has been tilling the soil for 67 years, but he remains poor.
“So why are the likes of Tatay Neg still farming? And more significantly, why are they still
poor? What kind of society and people allow for such a gross injustice to persist unaddressed?” Pangilinan once said.
Pangilinan went to Vice-President Leni Robredo and invited her for the raising of hands in front of the stage.
“Ang ating mga magsasaka, mangingisda, taumbayan ang magpapanalo sa atin; sila rin ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit lalo tayong magsisikap na makapaglingkod,” Pangilinan said.
A number of politicians and political operators have been pushing to pair Robredo with either Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (Rosa) or Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Leti).
Last month, Pangilinan said efforts to pair Robredo with a different running mate were meant to confuse voters and would not prosper.