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NORTH COTABATO, Philippines – North Cotabato is more than a thousand kilometers away from Ilocos, the home region of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, but shades of the so-called “Solid North” support was still evident when he visited this province in Mindanao on Thursday, March 10.
Marcos campaigned in Makilala, Kidapawan, Matalam, Kabacan, and Midsayap – cities and towns where at least 65% of the population are Ilocano migrants. He was warmly received by both residents and officials in all towns, especially in Kabacan, which is an Ilocano-speaking area.
Together with Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Lagdameo, Abakada Representative Jonathan dela Cruz, and former Agham Representative Angelo Palmones, the vice presidential candidate also met with town mayors.
Most of these local leaders, including Governor Emmylou Mendoza, are from Ilocos and also belong to the Liberal Party (LP),
Although the yellow party dominates the province’s leadership, the Senator Marcos is confident he got the support of the Ilocano leaders he met with during his visit.
“That is what we came here for. Of course, talk to the people, we also talk to the local leadership if we can ask for their support,” he said in a press conference.
Makilala Mayor Rudy Caoagan was one of the LP leaders who expressed their support for Marcos, who is running against LP’s vice presidential bet Leni Robredo. Others remained silent on the matter.
Asked whether he is not afraid to get sanctioned by President Benigno Aquino III, the chairman of LP, Mayor Caoagan said: “Ang pagka-LP ko naman naiiba sa tulong ko kay Marcos because, after all, my parents are Ilocanos.” (My membership in LP is one thing, and my support for Marcos is another.)
Governor Mendoza explained that she remains supportive of LP’s candidates, but she had to welcome Marcos because “Bongbong is family – I am Ilocano and the incumbent officials [are too].”
She also told reportrs, Just like [how] we are welcome in other municipalities to campaign, they (other candidates) are also welcome [here],” she told reporters.
In the entire region of Soccsksargen, according to The Standard Poll’s February survey, Marcos was only the 4th preferred vice presidential candidate, behind Francis Escudero, LP bet Robredo, and PDP-Laban’s Alan Peter Cayetano.
North Cotabato covers 32% of Soccskargen’s whole voting population.
After Cotabato, Marcos will be visiting Davao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte toward the end of the week.
Marcos is set to start the Visayas leg of his “unity caravan” next week. His first stop will be in Iloilo City, but it is not yet certain whether his standard-bearer Miriam Defensor Santiago, who hails from there, will join him there.
He said their Iloilo campaign was planned as early as a month ago. It was intended to “introduce” Marcos to the voters of his presidential candidate’s bailiwick. – Rappler.com