ABS-CBN News : The Marcos connection: Political clans backing Bongbong's Malacañang bid

By Michael Abarro | ABS-CBN News

MANILA - With presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. remaining as the survey frontrunner in Pulse Asia's latest pre-election poll, a question should be asked: Where does his support come from?

Earlier this year, analysts told ABS-CBN News that Marcos' high survey ratings could be explained by how his camp worked to make Filipinos perceive him as an ideal candidate with a vision of the future for the country.

Pulse Asia itself said in March that survey results saying the former senator was the most trustworthy candidate in the 2022 elections showed how his camp had effectively 'rebranded' him.

But there may also be another factor to the support for Marcos' candidacy: the backing of the country's political clans, many of whom are incumbent officials. Marcos' camp has claimed, for instance, that 73 of the country's 81 governors support him.

Though not all of the country's governors come from political families, 80 percent of them do, according to Ateneo School of Government Dean Ronald Mendoza.

Here are some of the country's clans backing Bongbong Marcos' bid for Malacañang.

NORTHERN LUZON

In the Marcos family’s “Solid North” bailiwick in Northern Luzon, regional political families such as the Singsons of Ilocos Sur, Mambas and Enriles of Cagayan, and the Dy and Albano clans from Isabela have thrown their support behind the former senator.

Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis Chavit Singson is a fixture in major BBM-Sara UniTeam rallies, such as the ones held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan and Ilocos Sur. The Ako Ilokano Ako (AIA) party-list group that Singson supports has also shown off the jets and armored cars lent to Marcos and his running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio during their campaign.

Singson's daughter Richelle, as well as his son Christian are two of AIA’s candidates. Chavit's brother Jerry, as well as his son Ryan, are both running unopposed for the province's gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial posts respectively.

In Cagayan, incumbent Governor Manuel Mamba is seeking his third consecutive term. Mamba is running under the Nacionalista Party (NP), while his rival Zarah Lara is under the PDP-Laban Party's Cusi Wing.

A former Aquino administration official, Mamba supported Marcos after the Nacionalista Party gave the former senator its endorsement.

Other Mamba family members running for posts in the province include the governor's nephew, Francisco Mamba III, as well as his running mate for vice governor. There are also the governor’s brothers, William and Francisco Jr., running for the positions of mayor and vice mayor in the town of Tuao.

What Mamba and Marcos have in common is that they have support from another political clan in Cagayan, the Enriles.

Juan Ponce Enrile, known for his role in the overthrow of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos during the 1986 EDSA Revolution, has defended Bongbong Marcos from issues like the family's estimated P203 billion in estate tax liabilities. Enrile's daughter Katrina, who is running for 1st district representative, has reportedly voiced support for Mamba's gubernatorial bid despite the political rift between their families.

Over in Isabela, incumbent Governor Rodolfo Albano and Vice Governor Faustino “Bodjie'' Dy III have also backed the UniTeam. Albano is defending his post from independent bet Glorietta Almazan and Romeo Carlos of the Philippine Green Republican Party, while Bodjie's seat is uncontested.

In Pangasinan, also considered part of the Solid North, 5th District Representative Ramon "Gwapo" Guico III has endorsed the UniTeam in his gubernatorial bid against incumbent Amado "Pogi" Espino III.

Guico's father, Ramon Jr., is running to take his son's old post as 5th district representative. Another one of Ramon Jr.'s sons, Ramon Ronald, is running for the mayoralty of Binalonan town.

CENTRAL LUZON

Down in Central Luzon, the Macapagal-Arroyo and Pineda clans have endorsed the UniTeam in Pampanga. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Lakas-CMD party is one of the founding members of the UniTeam alliance. She is running unopposed to become Pampanga's 2nd district representative.

Governor Dennis Pineda and his mother Vice Governor Lilia "Nanay Baby" Pineda were allies of the Liberal Party (LP) in the 2016 elections. Now, Dennis is fighting LP bet Danilo Baylon for the gubernatorial seat, while his mother runs unopposed.

In Bulacan, Vice Governor Wilhemino "Willy" Sy-Alvarado is the UniTeam's endorsed gubernatorial bet. The former governor and Hagonoy town mayor was once the town’s Officer-in-Charge appointed by the late president Corazon "Cory" Aquino. He's now running against former ally and incumbent Governor Daniel Fernando, who has thrown his support behind Robredo.

Alvarado's son, Jose Antonio, is running again for 1st district representative, a post his father once held.

Despite being known as a stronghold of the Aquino family, Tarlac Governor Susan Yap has also endorsed the Marcos-Duterte tandem. She stands unopposed for the governor's seat, while her son Christian is running to become 2nd district representative.

Though the governor initially introduced Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso as the "next Philippine president" in March, Yap clarified that she was not endorsing him yet. In the following month, April, reports came out that Yap had endorsed Marcos' candidacy instead.

SOUTHERN LUZON

In the Southern Tagalog region, the Revilla and Remulla families of Cavite have vowed to make the province a BBM-Sara bailiwick.

Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. is chairman of Duterte-Carpio's Lakas-CMD party, and has endorsed the UniTeam. His wife, Lani Mercado-Revilla, is running for the post of 2nd district representative, and their son Jolo is running for 1st district representative. Bong's brother, Strike, is running to become mayor of the family's hometown, Bacoor.

Meanwhile, incumbent Governor Juanito Victor "Jonvic" Remulla Jr. has vowed to deliver for Marcos 800,000 votes in Cavite to help him win the presidency. Remulla is running for re-election along with his brother, 7th District Representative Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla. Both are the sons of the late Cavite Governor Juanito "Johnny" Remulla Sr., who was a known ally of Marcos Sr.

BICOL REGION

Though Bicol is considered the home turf of Leni Robredo, the governors of Masbate and Camarines Norte have backed Marcos's presidency instead.

Antonio Kho, considered the kingpin of the island province, reportedly signed a manifesto of support for Marcos along with 17 of Masbate's 21 mayors. Kho is running for re-election while his wife Olga guns for the vice gubernatorial post. Their sons, Richard and Wilton, are running for 1st and 3rd district representatives respectively. Outgoing Vice Governor Olga "Ara" Kho is also running as 2nd district representative.

Ex-Liberal Party member and incumbent Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado has also expressed support for Marcos. He's running for re-election while his wife Josefina aims for the seat of 1st district representative. Their son, Alvin, is running for the mayoralty of their hometown Labo.

VISAYAS

One of the major endorsements Marcos gained in the Visayas was from the One Cebu party of incumbent Governor Gwendolyn Garcia. In February, Garcia had already endorsed the former senator's running mate Duterte-Carpio, but it took her two more months before backing Marcos' bid in April.

But on the same day of the announcement, Gwendolyn's brother Pablo John "PJ" Garcia resigned as One Cebu's secretary-general. PJ, who had already endorsed Manila Mayor Domagoso, said the party’s decision was, "a choice which, unfortunately, I cannot support.”

In Leyte, Marcos has support from the clan of his mother Imelda, the Romualdezes. Bongbong's cousin, Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, is both the president of Lakas-CMD and is running unopposed for the province's 1st district representative seat.

But Marcos also has the backing of the Romualdez family's political rivals, the Petillas. The former energy secretary of the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Carlos Jericho Petilla, is running for governor in the province to replace his brother, Leopoldo Dominico Petilla. Both were former Liberal Party members and are the sons of former Leyte governors Leopoldo Petilla and his wife Remedios.

Even though the province of Iloilo is a Robredo bailiwick, Marcos has the support of a key figure of the Garin clan, ex-Liberal Party member and Aquino administration Health Secretary Janette Garin, who is running for 1st district representative. Meanwhile, Vice Governor Christine "Tingting" Garin has yet to publicly endorse any presidential candidate.

The Espina clan supports Marcos in the island province of Biliran, with incumbent Governor Rogelio Espina announcing his support back in February. Though Rogelio Espina withdrew his candidacy last year, his son Gerard will be running for the gubernatorial race in his stead. Rogelio's brother, Gerardo, is running unopposed as representative of the province's lone district.

MINDANAO

Over in Mindanao, even though President Rodrigo Duterte hasn't officially endorsed any presidential candidate, Marcos' running mate is Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Her brother, Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian "Baste" Duterte, has expressed hope that the chief executive would endorse Marcos. Another brother, Paolo Duterte, is running for the post of 1st district representative.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Robredo has gained the endorsement of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party and its chairman, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim.

But several governors in the BARMM have pledged support for Marcos despite his father's history with the Moro people. These are Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, Sultan Kudarat Governor Suharto Mangudadatu and his wife Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Mangudadatu, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, and Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali. MILF founding chairman Nur Misuari has also endorsed Marcos.

Only Basilan Governor Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman has come out so far to support Robredo.

DYNASTIES

Presidential aspirant Marcos has said that political dynasties were not necessarily bad for the country, while maintaining that the best anti-dynasty provision was an election.

However, political scientists have pointed out that dynasties limit the choices people have in an election. In some provinces, members of political dynasties are running unopposed.