By Tara Yap | Manila Bulletin
ILOILO CITY—Presidential candidate and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. expressed surprise over the support and warm welcome he received in the city and province of Iloilo where he lost to Vice President Leni Robredo during the 2016 elections.
“Nakita niyo naman, may tao sa loob at may tao sa labas (You’ve all seen there are people inside and there are people outside),” said Marcos during the grand rally at the Tamasak Arena in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo province Thursday night, Feb. 24.
“Maraming salamat sa mainit na pagsalubong (Thank you for the warm welcome),” added Marcos, whose campaign sortie was held one day ahead of Robredo’s Feb. 25 visit to Iloilo.
While Marcos never mentioned Robredo or the 2016 elections, data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed Robredo defeated him by a wide margin. Marcos garnered 33,778 votes in Iloilo City and 94,411 votes in Iloilo province, which has 42 towns and the component city of Passi. In comparison, Robredo garnered 573,829 votes in the province and 137,662 votes in Iloilo City.
Iloilo was also one of the three pilot provinces for the manual recount when Marcos filed an election protest against Robredo.
During Thursday’s grand rally, Marcos thanked former Iloilo 4th District congressman Ferj Biron for gathering supporters from all over Iloilo.
Biron, who is seeking a congressional seat, was able to bring 15,000 Ilonggos to support Marcos, vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte, and the Uni-Team senatorial slate.
Also present was 5th District Congressman Raul “Boboy” Tupas who represents northern Iloilo province.
The political clan that controls much of southern Iloilo province also backed the Marcos-Duterte ticket. Present at the rally was Iloilo 1st District congressman Richard Garin, husband of incumbent congresswoman and former Health Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin.
Former Iloilo City mayor and congressional candidate Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III is also supporting Marcos and Duterte.
The Marcos campaign sortie on Thursday showed a shift in both the city and the province of Iloilo as several key leaders are now openly supporting Marcos instead of Robredo, whom many supported during the 2016 elections.
On the other hand, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., Iloilo 3rd District Congressman Lorenz Defensor and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas have publicly backed Robredo’s presidential bid.