Poe, Binay, Roxas visit vote-rich Cebu

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Has the race begun? Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas visit vote-rich Cebu all in a day.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – The top three 2016 presidential race favorites – Sen. Grace Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II – all flocked Cebu on Monday (August 24).

With at least 2.5 million registered voters, Cebu can certainly give an advantage to any presidential candidate.

Based on the records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the vote-rich city had at least 80 percent voters turnout in the 2013 elections.

Was it mere coincidence that the three presidential hopefuls were there at the same time?

Not necessarily, they said, as they all had their own errands to attend to in the Queen City of the South.

Poe not allowed to speak, media asked to leave

The University of San Carlos (USC), one of Cebu's top schools, held activities for its foundation day. Part of it was supposed to have Poe delivering a speech before thousands of college students.

But for still unclear reasons, reporters were told that Poe's speech was scrapped at the last minute though she was still allowed to appear in the event.

Furthermore, media teams who traveled from Manila, mostly just to cover the speaking engagement, were also asked to leave the venue. One school official told CNN Philippines that, while they agreed to let Poe to grace the event, the media was not invited.

A member of Poe's staff said the arrangements for media coverage were still in place, until the school administration changed its mind in the morning.

The student organization that invited the senator to the event said the visit was supposed to be low key and that they did not expect it would generate so much media attention.

Poe says she respected the decision of USC officials to ban media coverage.

Later in the day, the media were told that Poe was eventually allowed to proceed with her speech.  She spoke about quality education, job opportunities for graduates, and faster Internet connections.

Binay makes rounds in remote barangays

Meanwhile, Binay made his rounds in Cebu by opting to visit the remote barangay of Climaco in Toledo City.

The barangay, which is about two hours away from Cebu City, is situated on top of a mountain. The vice president’s entourage had to pass through rough roads for more than an hour.

The area is so remote that cellphone signals were difficult to come by.

In Climaco, the vice president boasted about his accomplishments in Makati. And again, he also enumerated his plans to uplift the lives of the poor, as he did in Makati.

Binay also defended himself against corruption allegations against him.

Residents said it was the first time a politician visited their place and that the visit meant a lot to them.

Binay also planned to visit two more barangays in Toledo. From there, he was expected to proceed to Talisay City.

Roxas in Daang Matuwid dialogue

Like Poe, LP standard bearer Roxas visited an educational institution in Cebu.

In Daang Matuwid People's dialogue in Cebu Normal University, Roxas's speech focused on one thing – the people's needs. And his message, Daang Matuwid would continue under his leadership.

Participants included Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P's) beneficiaries, civil society members, and local govt officials from government agencies in Cebu.

Positive testimonials commending government for its urban poor projects were again heard.

But some also challenged the programs of the government, such as the need to battle climate change, the need to eradicate drug syndicates, and how calamity funds could be used efficiently.

Government officials who were also invited in the event were Cabinet secretaries like Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Janette Garin, and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philhealth Dirrector Risa Hontiveros, and Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesman, were also invited to the event.

President Benigno Aquino III followed in Cebu Colliseum, where he arrvied with Roxas and attended the event called “A Gathering of Friends.”

Various local leaders, representatives from civil society organizations, and local chief executives of Central Visayas, have formally announced their support to Roxas for the upcoming 2016 elections.

CNN Philippines’ David Santos, Joyce Ilas, and Kimberly Go contributed to this report.