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MANILA, Philippines – Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr barnstormed Bataan and Zambales on Thursday, March 17, and secured the endorsements of the provincial governors there, Albert Garcia and Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., respectively.
Two neighboring provinces of Central Luzon, Bataan and Zambales have 1.11 million voters combined. Bataan has 566, 479 while Zambales has 540, 309.
Considered part of the Marcos base in the North, the son of the dictator won in both provinces in the 2016 vice presidential elections.
At the indoor Bataan Peoples’ Center in Balanga, Garcia made it known he was for Marcos and vice presidential running mate Sara Duterte.
“Rock star ang dating ng ating susunod na pangulo, pati po ang inyong lingkod ay nahawa na sa pagka-rock star ng ating pangulo,” Garcia told a packed stadium. (Our next president is like a rockstar, that rockstar vibe of our president seemed to have also rubbed off on me.)
Garcia’s sister, Dinalupihan Mayor Gila Garcia, earlier hosted Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, but said the family has not yet decided on a candidate to endorse. The Garcias are veterans in Bataan politics, with many of them occupying elected posts in the province.
Remember Geraldine Roman?
Bataan First District Representative Geraldine Roman also declared her province “a Marcos and Duterte country.” President Rodrigo Duterte also won Bataan in 2016, but he only edged out close rival Senator Grace Poe in the province by 1,362 votes.
Roman’s congressional win under the Liberal Party in 2016 made international headlines as she was the first openly transgender woman elected to the House in predominantly Catholic Philippines. President Duterte also won that elections, and by May 2017, Roman and several Liberal Party members had jumped ship to the Duterte-led PDP-Laban.
In Balanga on Thursday, Roman credited the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos for infrastructure projects in Bataan, telling the younger Marcos “hindi po ako nagugulat na kayo ay minamahal dito sa aming lalawigan (I am not surprised that the province loves you.)”
One of the more known projects in Bataan is the botched Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which Marcos said he would like to revisit if he wins, justifying that his father’s solution to the energy crisis in the ’70s did not succeed because it was politicized.
It’s more than that. The contract with Westinghouse Electrical Corporation to build the power plant was fraudulent and Marcos’ crony – the late Herminio Disini (through his heirs) – was ordered by the Supreme Court in June 2021 to pay government over P1 billion in damages.
“The totality of the testimonial and documentary evidence of the government proved that Disini had unduly enriched himself at the expense of the people and the Republic,” said the Supreme Court.
As oil prices jack up, Marcos told the crowd “kailangan nating pababain ang gastos natin sa kuryente (we need to to find a way to bring down electricity charges).”
Marcos also stopped by the St. Joseph Cathedral in Balanga.
Arroyo general for Marcos
From Bataan, he and his Uniteam senatorial bets went to Zambales, where they were hosted by Governor Ebdane.
Before a crowd at the Zambales Sports Complex, Ebdane called Marcos the next president. “Kanyang pinaunlakan ang kahilingan niyong makita kayo, ang susunod na pangulo ng Pilipinas, Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos Jr,” Ebdane told his constituents.
In February, Ebdane predicted that Marcos and Duterte would have a “runaway victory” in Zambales, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.
A retired police general, Ebdane was a public works secretary of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whose Lakas-CMD is carrying Sara Duterte’s candidacy.
Ebdane was the police chief during Arroyo’s “Hello Garci” scandal, or the tapped phone call of the former president to former elections director Virgilio Garcillano asking about her votes during the 2004 presidential elections.
In Zambales, Marcos repeated his pitch to extend the term of barangay officials to five years. They currently have terms of three years. Marcos said all barangay volunteers should be given honoraria. – Rappler.com