LP MAN. Southern Leyte Governor Roger Mercado speaks at a local candidates’ forum in Maasin City. He running for Southern Leyte representative. Photo by Dionard Mendova/Rappler
SOUTHERN LEYTE, Philippines – Unlike some of their colleagues in other provinces, Southern Leyte Governor Roger Mercado of the ruling Liberal Party said he and members of his political clan are "100%" behind the LP tandem of Manuel "Mar" Roxas II and Leni Robredo.
Mercado, the LP provincial chairman in Southern Leyte, made this clear in an interview with Rappler days before the May 9 elections, following an erroneous report that the influential Mercado clan had endorsed the vice presidential bid of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
“We are 100% RoRo (Roxas-Robredo), period. We are members of the Liberal Party and we are duty-bound to support all our official party candidates,” said Mercado, who is running for Southern Leyte representative.
There was confusion over the favored tandem of the Mercado clan after the governor was seen "raising the hand" of Marcos at the latter's Maasin rally. This was interpreted as the Mercados' endorsement of the senator.
The governor strongly denied this and pointed out that it was the senator who raised his hand, and not the other way around. He said the reception he extended to the Marcoses was just normal courtesy and civility extended to visiting fellow public servants and officials.
“I did not raise his (Marcos') hand. It was he who raised our hands in that rally. It is just but customary to us Southern Leyteños to welcome all national candidates who are visiting our province as we do not want to deny our people the chance to see them because these are personalities and guests they seldom see," the governor said.
Mercado also stressed that although his clan cannot entirely dissociate itself with Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was born in Maasin City, they won’t endorse him.
Mercado said the same applied rule to other national candidates from different political parties who had campaigned in Southern Leyte, like former senator Miguel Zubiri, who is seeking a comeback in the Senate.
"They know that we have a responsibility to the Liberal Party and we made it clear to them. They know that we will only back candidates of our official party. We are friends but when it comes to politics, they know that it is another matter," Mercado said.
The Mercado family vowed to stick with the Roxas-Robredo tandem and the complete LP slate. "We will only endorse Roxas and we will be behind him all the way," the governor said.
Aside from the governor, other members of the influential Mercado clan who are running in Southern Leyte are his brother, Southern Leyte Representative Damian Mercado, who is running for governor; and the governor's son, provincial board member and Maasin City mayoral candidate Nico Mercado.
The Mercados were allied with Lakas-Kampi CMD in 2010, then the National Unity Party in 2013, before finally transferring to the LP in 2016.
The LP leadership adopted the Mercados in lieu of Vice Governor Shefferedd Lino Tan and Board Members Albert Esclamado and Miguel Maamo II. They bolted LP at the last minute, or before the deadline of the filing of candidacy to run under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Through their alliance with the Mercados, the LP has the support of 17 out of 18 incumbent mayors in Southern Leyte. – Rappler.com