By Villamor Visaya Jr. | Inquirer.net
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Philippines — Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a presidential candidate, hit the campaign trail in Northern Luzon on Monday by visiting Cagayan province, a known bailiwick of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a major player in the 1986 ouster of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the candidate’s father.
Marcos Jr. and Enrile shared the stage during the former’s sortie at Barangay Carig Norte in this city.
Enrile, who also celebrated his 98th birthday during the occasion, introduced Marcos Jr. as “the next president from the north.”
“Cagayanos will be all-out for him (Marcos Jr.),” Enrile declared during the campaign rally held in his family-owned Jaka compound.
Enrile, who served as defense secretary of the elder Marcos, was instrumental in toppling the government of the late dictator after also serving as the chief implementer of martial law.
In 1986, Enrile and former President Fidel Ramos, then head of the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police), withdrew support for Marcos and joined a million people along Edsa in a bloodless uprising that finally ended the Marcos 20-year rule and catapulted then housewife Corazon Aquino to the presidency.
Marcos Jr.’s sortie here drew at least 3,000 people who witnessed Enrile raising the hand of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas’ (PFP) standard-bearer. Despite his age, Enrile appeared stable enough to hoist himself up during the event.
“I thought I came here for the birthday celebration of my senate president when I was still a senator. [But] I was in for a surprise,” Marcos Jr. said, adding that Enrile has been influential in the political circle in the country without mentioning Enrile’s erstwhile fallout with his father.
Marcos Jr. said he would “slowly work” to generate jobs for Filipinos and develop tourism if he gets elected.
He also asserted that his team’s battle cry, which is “unity,” would be crucial to the country’s progress.
Senatorial candidate Harry Roque Jr.; Enrile’s daughter, Katrina Ponce-Enrile; and incumbent Board Member Perla Tumaliuan, who is also the PFP provincial president, joined the rally.
Katrina is running for representative of the first district of Cagayan under the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
The Enriles forged an alliance with Marcos Jr. late last year, noting that they shared common aspirations and programs.
Marcos Jr. was hoping to gain the majority of votes in Cagayan, which has 748,595 registered voters for May 2022 elections. In the 2016 vice presidential race, the province delivered for Marcos Jr., edging out by a wide margin his close rival and the eventual winner, Vice President Leni Robredo.