MNPR KICKOFF. Vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte takes photo with supporters during the kickoff of the Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas Ride (MNPR) at the Kingdom of Jesus Christ compound in Buhangin, Davao City on Tuesday (Feb. 1, 2022). Sara’s MNPR travelled to Bislig City in Surigao del Sur. (Photo courtesy of HNP Media)

MANILA – Thousands of people lined up along the highway from Davao City to Bislig City as they waited for the arrival of vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte on Tuesday.

The Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas Ride (MNPR) started shortly after 6 a.m. and after nine hours and 20 stops, Duterte and her group arrived in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur, some 226 kilometers away. Usually, a trip to Bislig from Davao only takes around five hours.

One of those who waited for Duterte was Nita Oniola, 61, a resident of Trento, Agusan del Sur.

“Moboto jud ko niya kay maayo siya, buotan siya. Mga pobre ang iyang huna-hunaon, dili ang kaugalingon,” Oniola said as her right hand waved a red and green flaglet while her left hand held Duterte’s poster.

“Ang akong vice president si (My vice president is) Sara Duterte,” she added.

During MNPR’s send-off ceremony, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, predicted a landslide victory for Duterte and her presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos.

Quiboloy also expressed support to the Uniteam as he prayed for the safety of everyone joining the ride with Sara. The send-off was done at the compound of Quiboloy’s church in Buhangin, Davao City.

Present during the send-off were senatorial candidates Jinggoy Estrada and Harry Roque — both riding their motorcycles with Sara.

The first stop was in Tagum City in Davao del Norte, where Duterte led the inauguration of the Marcos-Sara Duterte Alliance (MASADA) provincial headquarters.

Duterte, in her short message, thanked the BBM-Sara tandem supporters and called on them to come together in campaigning for unity in the country.

“Maraming salamat sa suporta ninyo sa Uniteam at lagi nating ikampanya ang panawagan natin lahat – ang pagkakaisa. Sama-sama tayong babangon muli (Thank you very much for your support in Uniteam and let us always campaign the call of everyone – unity. Together we will rise again),” she said.

Duterte was welcomed by local supporters and the provincial government leaders led by Davao de Oro Gov. Tyron Uy, Vice Governor Maricar Zamora, First District Rep. Manuel ‘WayKurat’ Zamora and other members of the provincial Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) slate.

In Bislig City, Duterte graced the opening of the LAKAS-CMD Provincial Headquarters with party National Party Secretary General Prospero Pichay and wife, Cantilan Mayor Carla Pichay.

Sara also met Surigao del Sur Gov. Alexander Pimentel and Rep. Johnny Pimentel in a separate event in Bislig City.

From Bislig, Sara’s team will head to Surigao City Wednesday morning.

The MNPR caravan was conceptualized amid the challenges brought by the imposition of different travel and social gathering restrictions against the spread of Covid-19.

The three to five-hour daily ride will feature tourist landmarks, short meet ups with local supporters, and distribution of Philippine flags to remind Filipinos that the country needs unity to advance positive change and sustainable development.

The caravan will start in the eastern side of Mindanao to Cagayan Valley and will head back to Davao after taking the west-side route from Ilocos Norte. (PR)