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MANILA, Philippines – The Marcoses have never had it this good in a long time.
Not only will Imee Marcos become a senator like her father and brother before her, the family of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos also sealed its control of Ilocos Norte to the extent that it had never achieved in the post-Marcos period. (READ: Imee Marcos tops elections in the north)
Imee’s 29-year-old son Matthew Manotoc will take her current post as governor of the province, a position given to him on a silver platter after erstwhile rival Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas withdrew his candidacy at the last minute.
Matthew said the fact that he’s young makes him different from the other Marcoses who took the helm of the province. “I think my youth is the biggest factor. Nowadays, leadership is a little more collaborative. Siguro that’s one difference. I’ll be a little more collaborative with my staff, try to listen to everyone, and work with people,” he told reporters after his proclamation on Tuesday, May 14.
Matthew’s aunt, Cecille Araneta Marcos, will serve as his vice governor.
An uncle, Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Eugenio Angelo Marcos Barba, will replace former first lady Imelda Marcos as representative of the province’s 2nd district.
A first: Control of Laoag City
But the icing on the cake for the Marcos family is Michael Marcos Keon’s hairline victory over Chevylle Fariñas in the mayoral race in Laoag – allowing the Marcoses to finally end the Fariñases’ control of the capital city.
Chevylle is the widow of Rudy Fariñas’ nephew, longtime Laoag City Mayor Michael Fariñas, who died in a car crash in June 2018. Keon defeated her by a margin of only 1,541. He got 29,679 votes while Chevylle got 28,138 votes.
What rubs salt in the wound is that Keon is considered an outsider in Laoag City.
A son of the dictator’s late sister Elizabeth Marcos Keon, the incoming city mayor had served one term as Ilocos Norte governor from 2007 to 2010 – in between the terms of Bongbong and Imee.
Fariñas comforts himself with the electoral victories of his children.
But Chevylle Fariñas’ defeat is a political earthquake that shattered any semblance of balance between the province’s most entrenched political clans, where one family ruled the provincial capitol while the other controlled city hall.
“I just had the best retirement gifts,” Fariñas told Rappler on Tuesday.
His daughter Ria and son Rudy Caesar or “Baby Boy” will become lawmakers as representatives of the 1st district of the province and Probinsiyano Ako party-list, respectively. Another son, Rodolfo Christian or “Junior,” also won as provincial board member.
“See why I have to retire on June 30? Baby Boy was just the 8-year old boy playing in the House of Representatives galleries with his 3 younger brothers when I came there in 1998. Junior was only 3 years old then,” Fariñas said.
Laoag residents in the know can’t help but raise their eyebrows.
Fariñas was bent on destroying the Marcoses so that when he held the powerful post as majority whip in the House of Representatives in 2017, he launched a searing congressional probe into how the Marcos family allegedly mismanaged the affairs of the province and used Ilocos Norte’s coffers like it was their bank account.
Fariñas was then the right-hand man of the would-be-disgraced Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. One year later, Alvarez was ousted in a coup hatched by Imee and big-time accomplices – Pantaleon’s successor, now Speaker Gloria Arroyo, and Duterte’s own daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
What followed was a reversal of fortunes. Fariñas lost his powerful position in the House of Representatives and Imee would become one of Duterte’s favored senatorial candidates.
On the other hand, Imee Marcos’ senatorial bid solidified the Marcoses so that even Keon, who had been estranged from them, was wooed back.
Keon once ran against Imee Marcos for the gubernatorial race.
In 2013, he tried to run for mayor of Laoag against Chevylle Fariñas, who was backed by Imee Marcos then. Keon eventually withdrew from the mayoral race.
In the 2013 elections, Chevylle and her late husband Michael were with the Marcos camp, angering Rudy Fariñas. But the Fariñases eventually patched things up.
For these elections, Fariñas decided to run for governor after Imelda Marcos withdrew her candidacy in the wake of her conviction for graft.
But calculating his risks given the candidacies of his children, Fariñas backed out, allowing Matthew Marcos Manotoc to win as governor without a sweat.
Not only that: Fariñas endorsed Imee’s senatorial bid – which makes the Marcos sweep all the more sweet for a family that was forced to exile more than 3 decades ago. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com