By Rjay Zuriaga Castor


The Passi City Local Government Unit (LGU) in Iloilo is under fire following its alleged mandate to “all scholars” to join the sympathy caravan of the presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on December 11.

Netizens flagged the LGU's mandate after screenshots of an announcement from a certain “Cio Lgu Passi City” to all the scholars from senior high school to college in a private Facebook group “exclusive for Passi City scholars” were leaked and made rounds on social media. 

"Our City Mayor would like to involve you all to welcome his guests from other regions and provinces (in our city)," the post reads, which requires scholars to wear a "red t-shirt" and station in their designated areas as early as 8 a.m. on Saturday. 

The post also underscored that the attendance of scholars will be checked and only those who are present will be given a scholarship clearance, which will only be issued from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

"After the program, we will issue your payroll number for your release this coming January 2022.  After the number is given, we will then sign your clearance. Someone will guide you where to get the payroll number. Keep the payroll until January," it reiterated. 

The post also noted that the organizers know that scholars have their own candidates to lead the country, however, they emphasized that the Mayor and Vice Mayor need support to welcome the “visitors” of the city.

Amidst the criticisms of the city mayor and vice mayor on social media, the post reminded the scholars not to add fuel to the fire, citing that the continuation of the scholarship program depends on them. 

"Scholars, they need your support and not your bad comments. In our part in the City Information Office, we cannot control your attitude but we appeal to you to think of the words you are throwing," it posited.

'Not compelled to attend' 

Passi City Mayor Stephen Palmares in an official statement, clarified that the scholars are "not compelled or required to attend" the BBM-Sara sympathy caravan. 

"I would like to clarify that city scholars are NOT COMPELLED/ REQUIRED TO ATTEND the Caravan or to wear red t-shirts. Instead, we are only encouraging the scholars (who are also supporters of BBM-Sara) to join the caravan. In fact, not only the scholars are encouraged but also other sectors in our community," the city mayor said.

Palmares also underscored that he respects everyone's decision to support certain political parties and the caravan that will be participated by Passinhons will show unity in order to bring more developments in the city. 

While several scholars anonymously confirmed the legitimacy of the screenshots from the private Facebook group, Palmares questioned the authenticity of the leaked screenshots, maintaining that these announcements were not from the city's official accounts. 

"I have already asked to investigate the circulated [screenshots] but anyway that is social media, anybody could create an account. The only information they should get is from the LGU Passi City Facebook page and my official Facebook page as well," the city mayor told the Daily Guardian. 

The BBM-Sara tandem had not yet confirmed whether or not they would be present on the sympathy caravan. Vice Mayor Jesry is the provincial chairman of Lakad–Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), the political party from which current Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is chairperson. 

The sympathy caravan on December 11 will start at Taft North in Mandurriao, Iloilo City and will make its way through Leganes, Zarraga, and Pototan before culminating in Passi City.