By Mar Supnad, Jom Garner and Pat Santos | Daily Tribune
Luis “Chavit” Singson, incumbent mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur and president of the League of Municipal Mayors of the Philippines believes President Duterte will finally endorse Bongbong Marcos for president.
In an exclusive interview, Singson pointed out that based on the speech of President Duterte when he was guest of honor and speaker during the opening of the Narvacan public market in Ilocos Sur, he told the crowd that an Ilocano should be the next president who will succeed him in Malacañang.
“President Duterte was very clear in saying that he wanted that an Ilocano to be the next president and his successor. And BBM is the only Ilocano among the candidates,” he explained.
Singson is a close political ally of the president and close friend and political adviser of Bongbong. Both are from Ilocos.
As seen on television and social media, Singson and Bongbong are always together in campaign sorties in various parts of the country.
Singson has even predicted that around 1,200 mayors will support the presidential bid of BBM to bolster the Solid North support of the Marcoses.
Based on the surveys, BBM has always remained the top choice of the voters, despite the black propaganda and disqualification cases being thrown at him.
Two campaign activities of presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte-Carpio, dubbed as UniTeam, in Metro Manila were canceled over the weekend.
The tandem called off its grand rally in Parañaque City due to heavy rains on Saturday while their camp has yet to state the reason why they canceled their supposed caravan in Muntinlupa City on Sunday.
Benhur Abalos, Bongbong’s national campaign manager, announced the cancellation of the rally along Aseana Branca Avenue following the strong downpour.
“We were expecting at least 50,000 attendees. Despite the rains, we saw a lot of our kababayan stayed. In behalf of UniTeam, I thanked them for attending the event,” Abalos told reporters in an ambush interview.
Cracks in ‘Solid North’
An apparent crack in the so-called “Solid North,” has been seen after a local chief executive in the province of Cagayan, has thrown her support to the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo.
During Leni’s visit Saturday in one of the key provinces that make up the so-called “Solid North” or bailiwick of her chief rival Bongbong Marcos, Alcala Mayor Cristina Antonio officially endorsed Leni to her Ilocano constituents.
Antonio, who hosted the campaign sortie of Leni and her Angat Buhay slate in the province, has declared her support to Leni due to the latter’s immediate help to her constituents during the onslaught of typhoon “Ulysses” in December 2020.
In her introduction to Leni, Antonio recalled the presidential aspirant’s swift assistance to her town that was submerged in floodwaters during typhoon “Ulysses.”
“During typhoon ‘Ulysses,’ the town of Alcala was submerged in flood, 24 out of 25 barangays were submerged in 15-meters high floodwaters. We didn’t know where to go, we didn’t know who to ask for help. We were alone,” she said.
“In the middle of the night, (VP Leni) called and sent her assistance… Now let us accept her, let us open up our minds and heart for her. Let us hear her out. My President, Leni Robredo,” she added.
Her father, Cagayan province ex-Governor Alvaro “Bong” Antonio, who was also present during Leni’s visit, took a swipe against Marcos for the latter’s disappearances in times of disaster in his provinces.
The older Antonio recalled his several experiences with Bongbong during his stint as governor in the province, where he claimed that Bongbong did not bother to help his province, when it was pummeled by a strong typhoon.
“He did not even face me. He only instructed that my resolution be left. I personally tried to ask him for help twice when I was governor but not even a cross-eyed centavo was given by him,” he said in Ilocano.
“It is not necessary that we should pick an Ilocano candidate as we also base our votes over what transpired in the past,” he said while putting an emphasis that martial law era has been one of the darkest times in the country.
Aside from the two Antonios, Leni was also welcomed by Cagayan Third District Board Member Mila Lauigan, and Aparri Mayor Bryan Chan.
In 2016, Bongbong won a landslide victory against Leni in Cagayan with 383,657 votes against Leni who only garnered 54,971 votes.
Earlier, a known figure in Isabela, another province that is considered part of “Solid North” has expressed support to the candidacy of Leni.
Former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca is among former public officials that have declared their “unequivocal support” to Leni’s presidential bid.
‘Awan ti Solid North’
Meanwhile, after her visit in Cagayan, Leni made rounds in Isabela, where she was greeted by her supporters clad in pink shirts and placards with “Awan ti Solid North” which means “there is no Solid North.”
Leni along with her running mate Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan completed the rose on the mural in Barangay Ipil, Echague, Isabela that was painted over by uniformed personnel last month under the Comelec’s “Oplan Baklas” and later vandalized.
She capped her visit in the Northern part of the Philippines by a grand rally in Echague, which was attended by more than 10,000 Ilocanos.
In her speech before the over 10,000 Ilocanos, Leni admitted she was nervous about her trip to Cagayan and Isabela, because they are part of the so-called Solid North.
“I was nervous a while ago, Congressman Presley told me to open the car’s window, however, I was hesitant because nobody might wave to us. I was surprised, because there were many of you waiting for us on the road,” she said.
“We did not expect this, there are many of you who are here tonight. If the event was packed with so many participants, they would usually say we paid people to join us,” she added, which was answered by the crowd with “Hindi kami bayad!” chant.
Her rally in Isabela was also attended by Echague Mayor Francis “Kiko” Dy, Roxas Mayor Totep Calderon, San Manuel Mayor Manuel Faustino “King” Dy, Angadanan Mayor Joelle Panganiban Dy and PHILRECA Rep. Presley de Jesus.
Isko invades ‘Pinklandia’ in Bicol
Manila Mayor Isko on Sunday, meanwhile held a motorcade at far-flung Masbate on the first leg of the three-day tour of his rival Leni’s turf.
The Aksyon Demokratiko team arrived at the Masbate airport at 7:30 a.m. and toured Cawayan, Masbate followed by courtesy calls with their municipal leaders. The motorcade proceeded to Placer where they met mayor Eusebio Dumuran and other key officials before continuing with their caravan in Masbate City.
During their travel, Isko was warmly greeted by town folks who went out their way to line up the streets under the heat of the sun.
Isko was accompanied by vice presidential candidate Doc Willie Ong and his senatorial slate Carl Balita, Samira Gutoc and Atty. Joseph Sisson.
After Masbate, the team will proceed to the second leg of their three-day Pinklandia tour in Sorsogon and Albay until 15 March.