Bongbong-Sara tandem includes Mark Villar in Senate line up

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Bacoor City, Cavite (CNN Philippines, December 9) — The Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte tandem has included ex-Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar in their senatorial line up Thursday morning.

Marcos made the announcement at the UniTeam Alliance’s campaign sortie beside a mall in Bacoor City, where Villar and his mother, Senator Cynthia Villar, were present.

The UniTeam is a coalition of four parties namely Marcos’ Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), Duterte’s Lakas-CMD and Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

The tandem has so far already confirmed former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and ex-Senator Jinggoy Estrada as part of their senatorial line up.

“(Nandito) si (dating) Sec. Mark Villar na susunod na senador. Iluluklok po natin siya sa Senado,” Marcos said in his speech before supporters. “Alam niyo naman ‘yung trabaho niya (noon). Nakita naman ninyo kapag kayo babiyahe kahit saan, makikita ninyo ‘yung mga bagong project, infrastructure, ang kanyang pag-implement ng ‘Build Build Build’ (program) ay ramdam na ramdam, hindi lamang dito sa Cavite kung hindi sa buong Pilipinas.”

[Translation: Here with us is former Secretary Mark Villar. We will elect him to the Senate. You know how he worked in the past. You can see that wherever you go, there are new projects, infrastructure, his implementation of the ‘Build Build Build’ program, not only here in Cavite, but also in the entire Philippines.]

Cavite is the country’s second most vote-rich province with 1.7 million voters. Marcos and President Rodrigo Duterte won in Cavite in the 2016 national elections.

The presidential aspirant, in a short ambush interview after a meeting with supporters in nearby Rosario town, also revealed Villar was the first name he included in his senate slate.

The faction of the ruling PDP-Laban party led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier included Villar in their senatorial ticket composed of President Duterte’s allies.

The Cusi faction, however, has yet to have a definite standard-bearer after Senator Bong Go, the president’s longtime aide, announced his withdrawal from the race.

“Because siya ‘yung una kong nakausap. Bago pa mag-filing (ng mga candidacy), maliwanag ‘yung kanyang balak na tumakbo bilang senador. Magkaibigan naman talaga kami ng mga Villar dahil galing nga kami ng NP (Nacionalista Party) kaya we shouldn’t really be surprised na sumama siya sa lakad namin kaninang umaga,” Marcos said.

[Translation: Because he was the first one whom I talked to. Before the filing of candidacies, his plan to run for senator is clear. I and the Villars are good friends because we came from the Nacionalista Party that’s why we shouldn’t really be surprised that he joined us in our sortie this morning.]

Villar, son of the country’s richest man and former presidential candidate Manny Villar, was one of those who led President Duterte’s ‘Build Build Build’ infrastructure program.

Both Villar and Marcos vowed to continue the chief executive’s legacy program. The latter recently hit Marcos in his speeches, calling him a “weak leader” and a “spoiled child.”

Not yet mutual?

Villar, however, has yet to confirm if he’s accepting the endorsement of the Bongbong-Sara tandem. He did not comment when journalists tried to ask him about it.

It’s also not yet clear if this has something to do with his inclusion in the PDP-Laban Cusi faction’s senatorial slate and his close ties with President Duterte.

The Nacionalista Party (NP), led by Sen. Villar, meanwhile, has also yet to form an alliance with any other party or endorse a presidential bet for the May 2022 elections.

Marcos was an NP member from 2009 until he transferred to PFP last October shortly before he announced his presidential bid.

His son Sandro is also running as Ilocos Norte 1st District representative under NP.

“You have just to ask the Nacionalista Party. It’s not my place to talk about what their plans are,” Marcos when asked if Villar has already accepted his endorsement.

Roque, however, said the mere presence of his former Cabinet colleague in their sortie in Bacoor City already tells a lot about his take on the Bongbong-Sara tandem’s endorsement.

“The fact na sumipot po siya at umakyat po sa entablado ng UniTeam (Alliance), tingin ko po ‘yan na ‘yung kanyang kasagutan diyan,” Roque said in an ambush interview in Rosario, Cavite.

[Translation: The fact that he showed up and shared the stage with the UniTeam Alliance, I believe that’s his answer already.]

Marcos, meanwhile, said he will announce his senatorial line up “in the next few days,” which is expected to be composed of politicians from the UniTeam Alliance parties.