Manila Standard : Why Ilocanos are for Bongbong

26 October 2021

By Emil Jurado | Manila Standard

"Can he maintain his lead until election day?"

In my last column, I said that among the five presidential candidates, former Senator Bongbong Marcos could well be the “runaway” candidate, based on poll surveys.

With seven more months to go until May 9, there are advantages and disadvantages in leading a presidential election this early.

Anybody leading a presidential race this early could well be asked: Can he maintain the lead until election day? On the part of the other four candidates, they have a chance of overcoming Bongbong’s lead by working harder. But, can they, especially when Bongbong gets Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as a vice presidential running mate?

While Sara has been saying that she would no longer run next year, Santa Banana, she still has until November 15 to change her mind. I have always believed that politics is the art of the possible.

Personally, I doubt if the other presidential candidates can overcome Bongbong’s lead.

First of all, the constituency of Bongbong is basically the Ilocanos, which is primarily Region I, Region II and the Cordillera Administrative Region, and parts of Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales and Tarlac. My gulay, in any language, that’s hard to beat.

There are also Ilocanos in Metro Manila. This makes Bongbong closely tied with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso. BBM is almost as popular as “Yorme.” And do not discount the fact that Eastern Visayas of the Romualdezes is another bailiwick of Marcos. In Mindanao, there are enclaves of Ilocanos. Would you believe that as far as Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao, there are Ilocanos?

What I am saying is that the constituency of Bongbong is solid, unmatched by the other candidates. Isko Moreno Domagoso, Senator Ping Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao may also be popular, but they don’t have the constituency of Bongbong Marcos. As for Vice President Leni Robredo, who claims to be the opposition candidate, what are her constituencies? The Yellows? The Left, mostly from the Makabayan Party-list Group, who are actually the fronts of the communist insurgents. In fact, I would even say the support given by the Left for Robredo has a big negative effect on her bid.

Bongbong can maintain his Ilocano and partly Visayan constituencies. There’s no way for him to lose his lead. In other words, Bongbong’s win is assured.

Aside from the fact that all poll surveys have dubbed him as the “runaway” presidential bet is the fact that poll surveys have what we call “bandwagon effect,” on voters undecided. It’s not unusual that undecided voters like to be identified with the winners, never with the loser.

I am basing my opinion on Bongbong based on the fact that he was the clear winner in the 2016 vice presidential race were it not for the fact that Smartmatic and the Yellows cheated him. I cannot forget that night in 2016 when the first votes were counted Bongbong was winning and then after I went to sleep, Santa Banana, Bongbong had lost his lead, according to Smartmatic. Recall that the lead of Robredo was a little over 200,000 votes. And recall that when Bongbong protested before the Supreme Court Electoral Tribunal and demanded a recount, the ponente of the case, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, a clear ally of the Yellows, made Robredo the winner. Bongbong never had a chance before the Supreme Court.

Martial Law? This is a discounted issue having been thrown at the Marcoses since almost half a century ago. Year in and year out, the Left and Marcos haters repeat this issue every year so much so that it no longer rings true. Yes, there was Martial Law which broke the backbone of the communist insurgency movement. Were it not for Martial

Law, Santa Banana, the Philippines would now be a communist state! And that’s a fact.

It may be asked: Why are Ilocanos so loyal to the Marcoses? The reason for this is that in Ilocandia, life is so hard compared to other regions in the country, so much so that Ilocanos often rely on their political leaders just to survive.

In Ilocos Sur, for instance, there is no arable land except along the beaches that extend all the way from La Union to Ilocos Norte. Abra, an inland province now part of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), is so mountainous that there are no means of livelihood. I should know; I was born there. People have to depend on their political leaders, which explains the fact that they take their politics so seriously and the province becomes violent during election time.

The province has been run by political families as far as I can remember.

The mentality of the Ilocanos is such that often when they group together, and when an Ilocano is in a position to help an Ilocano, he or she does it out of love. That’s the reason years ago whenever I renewed my driver’s license or had my car registered I used to look for an Ilocano in the car registration office to help me out. It’s some kind of tribalism, which explains the fact that Ilocanos remained loyal to their political leaders. And that explains, my readers, why they remain loyal to the Marcoses who during the Marcos regime did so much for Ilocandia. And that, my gulay, is the constituency of Bongbong Marcos!

The big question now is whether or not presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara will run for a national office. She will decide before November 15 to run for a national office. What will it be? My fearless forecast is that she will be Bongbong’s vice presidential candidate. I base this on the fact that Bongbong has no running mate up to now. And if Sara decides to run as the running mate of Bongbong, “tapos na ang boxing” as they say it in the vernacular.

As I have been saying, a Bongbong-Sara tandem is formidable, a combination of North and South. And with President Duterte still as popular as he is until he steps down, Bongbong-Sara is a winning team.

Those behind must work harder. The fact that Bongbong is a frontrunner gives the other presidential candidates a change to improve their rankings.

Take the case of Vice President Leni Robredo, who, according to surveys, ranks second to Bongbong. She must work harder, and not rely on her volunteer-supporters, which is a nebulous group that can always give their support to other candidates they believe will win. This is why the so-called fearless forecast of a female columnist in another newspaper gave me a big laugh. She believes her candidate, Leni, will be the next President of the country, counting on the volunteer groups that have extended their support for Robredo. This columnist is also a board member of Maria Ressa’s Rappler that is being used by the US government to demonize Duterte.

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