It was intended as a show of force but ended up as a major irritant to hundreds of thousands of commuters and motorists who were either stranded or stuck in traffic for hours.
The motorcade for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte was held last week at Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Metro Manila.
While the Philippine National Police (PNP) estimated that only 6,000 vehicles – mostly cars and motorcycles – took part, the organizers made sure they were spread out to occupy all eight lanes of Commonwealth.
As a result, the motorcade moved slowly, if at all, and this only angered the commuters and motorists in the area.
As a result, the camp of Marcos Jr. issued a public apology. His spokesman lawyer Vic Rodriguez said in a statement that they were “apologizing and asking for understanding from motorists, commuters, the local government, and even the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) if the unity caravan caused traffic congestion.”
The Quezon City government said that the Marcos Jr. camp should have worked with them to make sure that nothing untoward happened. By coordinating with the city government, the anger and frayed nerves could have been avoided.
The local government said the Marcos camp had originally agreed to coordinate with them earlier in the week but gave no reason why there was a change of heart by the planners.
Complainants took to social media to lambast the badly planned motorcade.
A doctor, for example, said it took him more than two hours to traverse the path from his house to the hospital where he was based, when it usually took only 20 minutes.
As a result, he failed to see his patients that day, he said.
Another said the caravan was “the worst” she had ever seen, and actually resulted in potentially dangerous consequences for her sister, a frontliner.
The netizen said her sister “ scheduled an operation but because of the heavy traffic, she was late and the patient had a hard time.”
Yet another netizen “thanked” the organizers of the motorcade for turning Commonwealth Avenue into a parking lot.
Other comments in social media were not fit to be printed.
Presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson of Partido Reporma said the government should review the incident.
In a statement, Lacson said, “We are hoping that the Department of Interior and Local Government and Comelec (Commission on Elections) would seriously take a look at this issue.”
Lacson’s party blasted the “massive inconvenience” the caravan dealt to the riding public, worsened by the fact that the COVID-19 threat was still present and could again worsen due to the new Omicron variant.
The aftermath of the motorcade also caused further embarrassment to the Marcos Jr. camp, as there were videos showing that those who took part were rewarded with cash gifts for their efforts.
Worse, some participants took to social media to say that they had not been paid the promised sum.
Insiders said that before the motorcade, the car owners were promised PHP3,000 (about US$ 60) each, while the motorcyclists were told they would receive PHP1,500 (US$30). They were also promised full tanks of gasoline for their vehicles.
A video posted on social media showed participants queueing to receive only PHP500 (US10) each.
It was clear that all participants were compensated for their efforts as they were made to don red t-shirts bearing the Marcos/Duterte names before being allowed to fall in line to receive the “gift” from the Marcos camp.
Philippine election law bans vote buying with cash or any item of value but the law is considered unenforceable.