Interaksyon – #ResignJeffOrtega gains traction as tourism official refers to defeated Bongbong Marcos as ‘vice president’

By Jeline Malasig | Interaksyon

Filipinos called for the resignation of Tourism Regional Director Jeff Ortega after a video of him went viral where he introduced former senator Bongbong Marcos as the vice president of the Philippines despite losing in the national elections four years ago.

The public official, who acts as the head of the Tourism Department’s Region 1 Office, reportedly introduced Marcos in the launch of the region’s tourism branding and claimed that he is the second-highest official in the land.

The video was uploaded on Ortega’s Instagram account on October 6.

It was also reposted by reporters of news outlets on Monday night, when it eventually gained traction due to the Tourism official’s failure to acknowledge the authority of Vice President Leni Robredo.

The Marcoses remain popular in the Ilocos Region and currently occupy governorship and vice-governorship posts in Ilocos Norte, the home province of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Recently, a bill honoring his birthdate passed in the Senate panel after it was affirmed by majority of the House of Representatives last September.

Meanwhile, Ortega’s comments on the video did not sit well with some Filipinos who called for him to vacate his government post following the incident.

“He should be fired,” a Twitter user commented in response to seeing the viral clip.

“Shame on you Jeff Ortega. #JeffOrtegaResign #NeverForget #NeverAgain #MarcosTalo,” another online user said as he shared Shamcey Supsup’s words in light of the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 controversy.

“SHAME ON YOU, JEFF ORTEGA! From what alternate universe are you from?” another Twitter user said in response to the video.

“#JeffOrtegaResign,” she added.

Physician Jai Cabajar recalled how the Marcos camp would consistently tell the public to “move on” from Martial Law yet they “cannot get over” the results of the national polls in 2016, when Robredo was declared the winner of the vice-presidential race.

“And they have the audacity to ask that people should move on from Martial Law when they can’t get over this,” he wrote.

Another Twitter user accused Ortega of spreading “false information” despite being a public official who is expected to “uphold (a) high standard of credibility.”

Others called the attention of actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith, the partner of Ortega.

“You might want to remind your jowa that @lenirobredo
is the VP, @jascurtissmith. Nakakahiya siya,” a Filipino wrote with a vomiting emoji.

On Tuesday, the Department of Tourism reminded all of its officials and employees to perform and discharge their duties with the “highest degree of excellence and professionalism” following the incident.

“We remain guided by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) especially in expressing views on current political problems or issues,” the agency said.

In March 2016, CSC head Alicia dela Rosa-Bala reminded civil servants to always uphold political neutrality in conducting their duties. It also applies during the election season.

Marcos vs. Robredo

The younger Marcos, who lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes in the 2016 national elections, was initially the vice-presidential candidate of late senator Miriam Santiago.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously said that he wanted Marcos to succeed him and not Robredo, who is constitutionally in line with the succession.

Bongbong in the eve of Robredo’s oath-taking as the second-highest official of land in June 2016 filed an electoral protest before the Supreme Court, which is sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

He demanded a vote recount and accused the Liberal Party candidate of poll fraud.

Ballots from three pilot provinces, which were chosen by Marcos, were recounted, which in turn widened the lead of the former Camarines Sur representative by 15,000 votes, according to PET itself.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta recently said that he is hoping the high tribunal will finally rule on the electoral protest before the filing of the certificates of candidacy on October 2021.

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