CATARMAN, Northern Samar: Visiting remote barangay (villages) where no other presidential candidate has gone before, Sen. Grace Poe vowed to address the problems faced by residents of Northern Samar and Eastern Samar, two of the poorest provinces in the Philippines.
Poe, who campaigned in Borongan and Catarman on Thursday, reiterated her promise to provide free meals to children in public daycare centers and elementary schools, free kinder-to-college education for indigents and free irrigation for farmers.
When it began to rain, Poe stepped out of the covered stage where she was speaking to join the crowd.
“Hindi naman puwede na kayo lang ang mababasa, dapat ako rin [It’s not right that you’re getting drenched while I’m speaking here – I should go out there with you],” the senator told supporters who gathered in Barangay Baybay, to demonstrate her campaign slogan of compassionate leadership.
Poe said Samar will no longer be poor if she is given the chance to be President.
Northern Samar is the sixth poorest province in the Philippines, with 52 percent of the population living in poverty, according to the 2015 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Western Samar is the 13th poorest province, while Eastern Samar is the 16th poorest, with 4 of 10 people living well below the poverty threshold.
Samar’s population depends on farming and fishing for their income.
Under “Gobyernong may Puso, [Government with a Heart]” Poe and running mate Sen. Francis Escudero have committed to allocate P300 billion for the agricultural sector, the highest allocation to come from the government.
Poe, the first foundling to run for President, said she would fix the public schools, hospitals and even village centers in Samar that have been destroyed by typhoons.
The independent presidential candidate, who continues to lead pre-election surveys as the voters’ choice for President, brought her campaign for “Gobyernong may Puso” to Borongan, where she visited the public market and public hospital.
She proceeded to Catarman and Mondragon in the afternoon, where she was welcomed by thousands of supporters.
Reiterating her commitment to health, Poe earlier also vowed to infuse resources into the Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital to help the facility address the health needs of one of the province.
In an interview with media after her hospital visit, she was asked whether she believed she
had a chance of convincing Eastern Samar’s 300,819 registered voters to support her.
“Ang importante naman po ay kung anong gusto ng tao. Kaya naman kami’y umiikot dahil hindi naman hawak ng iilang tao lamang ang damdamin ng mga botante [What is important is what the people want. That’s why we’re making the rounds because how the voters feel is not the domain of just a few people],” Poe said.
“We see how poverty continues to prevail. Political parties don’t really matter here. What you need is a leader that cares,” she added.