Imee Marcos: Ilocanos find ‘sentimental attachment’ with Binay

Mara Cepeda
Imee Marcos: Ilocanos find ‘sentimental attachment’ with Binay
Senator Gringo Honasan once again skips the Ilocos sorties of his running mate

MANILA, Philippines – Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos said people in her province are likely to find their connection with Vice President Jejomar Binay because his mother comes from northern Luzon.

Siyempre may dugong Ilokano, so may sentimental attachment. Hindi maiiwasan,” Imee Marcos told reporters on Monday, May 2, when asked what Binay can expect from Ilocos Norte in relation to the upcoming elections. 

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer paid Imee Marcos a courtesy call when he campaigned in Laoag City on Monday. 

His mother hails from Cabagan, Isabela, which is part of the so-called “Solid North vote” together with the Ilocos Region and the Cordillera Administrative Region. (READ: Binay expects victory in Isabela)

The Marcos family is known to command the Ilocano vote, one of the reasons why Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr continues to top vice presidential surveys. (READ: The Scrum: Why Bongbong Marcos might win as VP)

According to Imee Marcos, her meeting with Binay should not be considered as an endorsement. 

Lahat naman welcome mangampanya sa Ilocos. Pero, wala pang endorsement dahil si Bongbong lang ang kandidato namin,” she said with a laugh. 

(Everyone is welcome to campaign in Ilocos. But I’m not endorsing anyone because Bongbong is our only candidate.)

Imee Marcos has granted audience at the capitol with other presidential bets who previously visited Ilocos Norte, including Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Grace Poe

Her brother Bongbong is running with Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago as his presidential candidate.  

In 2010, Binay won for vice president by a landslide in Ilocos Norte with 120,853 votes. The province currently has 378,786 voters registered for the May 9 polls. 

Absent Honasan

Binay’s running mate Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II skipped his standard-bearer’s Ilocos Norte sortie on Monday. 

Honasan instead attended a forum at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City, where he explained his absence. 

Can you how awkward it would be, nakatayo kami dun sa stage, ang host namin na local candidate, ini-endorso ang presidential candidate ng UNA, pero hindi ako? ‘Di para akong prop dun, ‘di ba? Tapos ang mga tarpaulin sa likod ko, hindi mukha ko nakalagay. So, very awkward for me, for the Vice President, and the governor,” said Honasan, referring to Ilocano Binay supporters who endorse Bongbong Marcos instead of him. 

(Can you imagine how awkward it would be if I’m standing onstage, then the local candidate will endorse the presidential candidate of UNA but not me? I will be like a prop there, right? Then the tarpaulins behind me will not have my face. So that’s very awkward for me, the Vice President, and the governor.)

According to Honasan, Binay being paired with other candidates “does not bother” him. 

“That’s a consequence of an absence of a political party system, which we should consider post May 9,” he said.

Honasan added that this is not stopping him from campaigning for Binay in the region, echoing a similar statement he made in March when asked why he did not join the Vice President’s Ilocos sorties then. 

”Nothing prevents me from going to Ilocos on my own, and meeting my Guardians,” Honasan said, referring to his brothers from the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Incorporated. Honasan used to be the chairperson of the Guardians consisting of retired military and civilian members.

Despite being paired with Bongbong Marcos, the Vice President has maintained that Honasan remains his vice presidential bet.

Bongbong Marcos was Binay’s original choice as running mate, but Bongbong Marcos refused the Vice President’s offer. 

Honasan then agreed to become UNA’s vice presidential candidate because he said he could not allow the standard-bearer of UNA, of which he is vice president, to run without running mate. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.