Manila Standard : JPE on Ongpin case; Ilocano presidents

19 November 2021

By Tony Lopez | Manila Standard

"Enrile has never lost a case."

Juan Ponce Enrile has commented on the decision made by San Fernando, La Union RTC Judge Romeo E. Agacita Jr. dismissing the possession of illegal drugs charge against Julian Roberto S. Ongpin on Nov. 15, 2021. The judge also ordered Immigration to lift the hold departure order on Ongpin. After a harrowing ordeal, the son of tycoon Roberto V. Ongpin is a free man.

Harvard-trained JPE made his name as a trial lawyer and a corporate lawyer in equal measure. He has never lost a case. Here is what JPE said on the Ongpin case:

“I learned about the case of Julian Roberto S. Ongpin for alleged violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 - the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002. And I also read thoroughly the decision of the Presiding Judge, Honorable Romeo E. Agacita JR., of the First Judicial Region of San Fernando City, La Union. I must say that Julian Roberto S. Ongpin was fortunate in having such a very judicious and capable judge to hear and try his case.”

“The decision is very lucid and well-written. Judge Agacita, Jr. meticulously analyzed the case, step by step, according to existing and current precedents and jurisprudence, to arrive at his decision to dismiss the case against Julian Roberto S. Ongpin for lack of probable cause to indict him for violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165. The decision of Judge Agacita, Jr. is truly a meritorious act of justice,” Enrile wrote his former cabinet colleague Bobby Ongpin.


In the May 9, 2022 elections, the team to beat is the tandem of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. for president, and Davao Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte for vice president.

The two combine the strongest voting regions in the Philippines today—the Ilocano Solid North of Marcos Jr. and the Cebuano Solid South of Mayor Duterte, the feisty daughter of the incumbent president.

Bongbong and Sara consolidate the two hottest political brands in the country—Marcos and Duterte.

The late Ferdinand Marcos was president for 20 years, from 1966 to February 1986. Rodrigo Duterte has a term of six years, until noon of June 30, 2022. Both Marcos and Duterte are considered very good presidents for their solid achievements. Digong, of course, is backing Senator Bong Go for president. In love, war, business and politics, black is thicker than water.

About 27 percent of Filipinos come from the so-called Solid North. Assuming a voter turnout of 50 million on election day, 27 percent is about 13.5 million votes. Of that easily 90 percent are diehards of the Marcos brand. That means 12.15 million votes.

At the same time, 25 percent of Filipinos speak Cebuano, equivalent to at least 12.5 million votes. Using President Duterte’s 67 percent job approval rating, we can assume 8.375 million hard Duterte voters. Most of those votes should go to Sara as vice president.

Combined, the 12.15 million Bongbong votes and 8.375 million Duterte votes make for a formidable 20.525 million votes at the starting gate.

Bicol’s Vice President Leni Robredo can count on 2.45 million Bicolano voters. They are 98 percent loyal to any Bicolano candidate.

However, 4 percent of Filipinos or 2 million voters are Waray, those who come from Samar and Leyte provinces and will likely vote for BBM-Sara.

Such an ethnic distribution — 27 percent Ilocano, 25 percent Cebuano, 5 percent Bicolano, and 4 percent Waray—leaves the other regions as battleground areas, to consolidate one’s formidable Ilocano-Cebuano base (20.525 million) for Bongbong or reinforce Leni’s puny base of 2.4 million Bicolano votes at the starting gate.

During the next five months of campaigning, Bongbong and Sara only need to garner from 10 percent to 20 percent of the votes of Metro Manila, balance of Luzon and the balance of the Visayas and Mindanao to ensure victory.

These battleground regions have 40 percent of the remaining voters, or a total 20 million, of whom 12 million are Tagalog voters.

Tagalog voters have no particular loyalty to any non-Tagalog candidate.

In the SWS October 2021 survey, Bongbong Marcos garnered 47 percent or 29.28 million possible votes; Vice President Robredo 18 percent or 11.13 million votes, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso 13 percent or 8.25 million votes, boxing champion Senator Manny Pacquiao 9 percent or 5.7 million votes, and Senator Panfilo Lacson 4 percent or 2.99 million votes. SWS uses the whole voter base, not the voter turnout.

For vice president, Senate President Tito Sotto leads with 44 percent (27.36 million votes). Inday Sara is a distant second, with 25 percent (15.47 million votes). Leni’s running mate, Senator Kiko Pangilinan and Isko Moreno’s running mate, Dr. Willie Ong, share third place, each with 13 percent or 7.82 million votes.

After 35 years, Filipinos have discounted the Marcos legacy of alleged plunder, human rights violations, and abuses of a dictatorship in a 20-year reign. “People have had a catharsis,” says one analyst, “what remains are pure emotion and sentimentality: Most Filipinos like Marcos.”

Since 1898, the Philippines has had 16 presidents. Six of them were Ilocanos, Ilocano-speaking or had Ilocano roots.

They are: Elpidio Quirino of Ilocos Sur, Ramon Magsaysay of Zambales, Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol (both his parents were from Abra), Ferdinand Marcos of Ilocos Norte, Fidel V. Ramos of Pangasinan, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of Pangasinan and Pampanga.

Ilocandia, what is often referred to as the Solid North includes Region I (Ilocos Region), Region II (Cagayan Valley), the Cordillera Administrative Region or CAR, and parts of Region III (Central Luzon), particularly the northern Luzon Zambales and Tarlac provinces. After Tagalog, Ilocano has the most number of speakers. About 27 percent of Filipinos speak Ilocano. That means 27 percent of voters speak Ilocano.

Four presidents came from the Tagalog regions: Emilio Aguinaldo of Cavite, Manuel L. Quezon of Aurora, Jose P. Laurel of Batangas, and Joseph Estrada of San Juan, Metro Manila. About 40 percent of Filipinos speak Tagalog but they do not have the intense ethnicity of the Ilocanos.

Four presidents came from the Pampango-speaking Pampanga and Tarlac (which is half Ilocano): Diosdado Macapagal (Pampanga), Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (Tarlac), Gloria Arroyo (Pampanga and Pangasinan), and Benigno S. Aquino III (Tarlac).

President Arroyo is the first multi-lingual Filipino president. She speaks five languages—Tagalog, Ilocano, Pangasinense, Pampango, and Cebuano, in addition to fluency in English and Spanish.

There have been only two presidents from Cebuano-speaking regions: Sergio Osmeña of Cebu, and Rodrigo Roa Duterte of Davao. Manuel Roxas was from Capiz where the language is Capiznon which is spoken by less than a million Filipinos, compared with Cebuano which is spoken by 27.5 million.