Chief campaign strategist and long time close Duterte associate Leoncio Evasco said they will ‘let a hundred flowers bloom and a thousand thoughts flourish
Except for a few and scattered personalities, the warm bodies that filled the Visayas Hall at Grand Regal Hotel were all largely low key and out of the limelight.
They however are the most enthusiastic of the lot.
They do not come from established parties. In fact, there were no official representatives from political parties.
Not even from the PDP-Laban which nominated Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as its presidential standard bearer. Nor was there an ’official’ delegation for the Nacionalista Party of running mate Senator Peter Allan Cayetano.
Longtime Duterte close associate and political operator Leoncio Evasco, mayor of Maribojoc town of Bohol, however said participants to the conference will form the core machinery dedicated solely to the presidential bid of the Davao City mayor.
The national campaign secretariat of which he is the campaign manager, according to Evasco, recognizes the independence and initiatives of Duterte supporters who are coming from across various political parties, sectors, groups and individuals.
“We will form a coordinating body and align and sync(hronize) activities and campaign directions to generate the widest support and broadest organization in support of our presidential candidate,” Evasco said at the sidelines.
The campaign machinery is in itself a compendium of diverse and diametrically opposed political persuasions.
They may have ran against each other before. But now, they – former and recently retired military and police generals and former ranking members of the communist underground movement– are seated in the same and across tables, exchanging notes and handshakes.
Many came from the ‘unattached’ middle class. Quite a number were professionals, businessmen and entrepreneurs.
They now call themselves Cadres for Duterte.
They listened to inputs from resource persons who bared and analyzed where their candidate stands at the moment using data, statistics and survey results available to all candidates.
As one resource person said, the other presidential camps are also discussing those figures even as they in the conference are gathered and doing the same.
Over the next few days, they will map out plans, discuss and draw out strategies, debate on battle plans and plot out directions.
Then the dirty work and the details.
Who takes care of the ‘sorties.’ The advance parties. The security. The media coordinators. The political operators. The organizers. The fund raising and other resources gathering. They even included health and medical teams.
All of them are there to push, spread and protect the candidacy of the man Time Magazine once called “The Punisher” for his heavy-handed approach to criminality.
Evasco explains that many local government officials have also expressed support for Duterte but are reluctant at the moment to come out for fear of a backlash from ruling administration.
In many areas, opposition parties at odds with each other are also supporting Duterte. Keeping them in one organization will be courting a political mess.
That is why, he added, they will let a ‘hundred flowers bloom and a thousand ideas flourish.’
“Like our presidential candidate, we want to maintain everyone’s independence and initiative at this stage of the campaign,” Evasco explained why other parties and interest groups are missing at the conference.