Press Release
February 26, 2016


TACLOBAN CITY--More than 25,000 people turned up to support presidential race frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe and her Partido Galing at Puso in the coalition's biggest rally yet since the start of the campaign season.

The crowd at the RTR Plaza in downtown Tacloban, which has a capacity of 25,000, swelled beyond the plaza's perimeter as the senatorial bets began to take the stage around 6 p.m. The people came from all over Leyte.

"Alam namin ang pinagdaanan ninyo sa Tacloban. May kanya-kanya kaming kwento ng pagbangon. Kayo ay ehemplo sa bayan natin sapagkat hindi kayo sumuko," Poe said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Tacloban, which bore the brunt of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, has endured the sluggish pace of rehabilitation and reconstruction due to bureaucracy and politicking. Two years since disaster struck, most of the city's survivors are still living in tents and bunkhouses.

The Tacloban local government reported that as of September 18, 2015, only 839 of the targeted 14,631 permanent shelter units have been completed, and most of them were funded by non-government organizations.

"Marami pa rin sa inyo ang naghihintay ng pagkalinga at pagtulong. Panahon na para sa 'Gobyernong may Puso' kung saan nararamdaman ang inyong pinagdadaanan," said Poe, who vowed that her government would prioritize assistance to the Filipinos who have long been left behind.

It started to drizzle in the middle of Poe's speech but the rain failed to dampen the crowd's spirit. The people stayed and merely took out their umbrellas.

Poe recalled how the Leyteños supported her father, Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) when he ran for president in 2004. FPJ held his own political rally in the same venue.

"Malaki ang aming utang na loob sa inyo, mula sa aking tatay hanggang sa aking pagtakbo bilang senador. Sa muling pagbalik namin dito, sana ay ang mga programang inaasam niyo ay maibibigay namin sa inyo," the leading presidential candidate said.

Poe, who topped the 2013 senatorial race with 344,016 votes from Leyte, stressed that politics should never play a role in preventing and addressing the impacts of a calamity.

"Dapat matuto na talaga tayo na hindi pulitika ang dapat manaig, lalung-lalo na kung may trahedya o sakuna. Kaya nga kami nakakulay puti, sapagkat dilaw ka man, pula o asul, lahat tayo magkakasama lalung-lalo na pagdating sa mga ganitong uri ng problema sa ating bansa," she said in a press conference before the rally.

Super Typhoon Yolanda, which made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, killed 6,300 people and displaced more than 1.4 million families, many of them in Eastern Visayas.

As of December 31, 2015, the government has only managed to complete 30 percent of the rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in Yolanda-hit communities nationwide, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported. Another 33 percent will be finished this year, as per government target.

"'Pag ako ay nanalo, lahat ng mga nakabinbin na proyekto, katulad ng rehabilitation at housing para dito ay dapat matapos na agad," Poe said in an earlier briefing.

When told that people were being discouraged to attend the rally, the senator simply said: "Ang Pilipinas ay bukas sa lahat."

Poe and her running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero, brought their campaign to Dumaguete and Tacloban Friday, after campaigning in northern Luzon.

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