OFFICIALS of Cebu province rallied behind candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) as the opposition party formally coalesced with One Cebu, a local political party on Tuesday.
The “marriage” of the two parties was formalized during a grand assembly at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City.
The candidates of UNA led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and One Cebu led by gubernatorial bet Winston Garcia attended the event.
“VP Binay and I agree to keep winning in perspective. We respect and appreciate our team members and our opponents as well. But to win, both of us believe as a matter of imperative to focus on a platform-based campaign,” Garcia, former president of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), said in a statement.
“We believe we have the good of each other at heart, and we act accordingly. And because we both consider ourselves as allies, we will be helping one another. I have come back to my roots and intend to lead a positive growth for a New Cebu,” he added.
Garcia said Binay contributed much to Cebu’s development even when he was the mayor of Makati City (Metro Manila) such as facilitating provision of free medicines and medical care in public district hospitals as well as granting privileges for the elderly and the disabled.
The coalition with UNA, he added, was the fruit of “consultations with Cebuanos from all sectors of society and that the choice for President in the consultative meetings “was an overwhelming ‘Yes’ for VP Binay.”
Cebu province has 2.7 million registered voters.
The assembly was also attended by Binay’s running mate, Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, and UNA senatorial bets Rey Langit, Sulu Sultanate Princess Jacel Kiram, Parañaque City (Metro Manila) councilor Alma Moreno, former Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas and labor lawyer Allan Montaño.
Cebu Third District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, who is seeking reelection, was also present, as well as Binay’s children Sen. Nancy Binay and dismissed Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay.
In his speech, the Vice President vowed to give priority to education, healthcare.
He said he will expand the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, which gives financial help to poor families.
Binay said provinces will be given funds for at least one big project each year if he wins.
“Under my presidency, each region and province will have funding for at least one mega project per year. And we will start here in Cebu,” he added.
Lack of major infrastructure projects, the Vice President said, was one reason why Cebu
fell to third place in 2015 after having been consistently named the most competitive province.
“Cebu is an international gateway and a major industrial and commercial center. Yet several major infrastructure projects still remain in limbo. Last year, after I raised these issues, the DPWH showed drawings and plans for Cebu,” he added, referring to the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“But drawing and plans are just that, drawings and plans. And until we put our shovels in the dirt, and until the cement mixers start rolling, they will remain drawings and plans,” Binay noted.
In his first year in office, he said, he will require regional and provincial development councils to submit their recommendations.
Binay also vowed to install a Malacañang satellite office in the province in line with his vision of a government that is closer to the people.