BACOLOD, Philippines — Most of Negros Occidental’s 31 mayors and five provincial board members are backing presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the May 2022 elections, Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer said on Sunday, December 12.
Ferrer, the head of the United Negros Alliance (Unega) political bloc, announced this after he presided over a meeting between local Marcos-Duterte supporters and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benjamin Abalos.
Abalos thanked Negros supporters on behalf of Marcos. The son of the late deposed dictator, he added, backed the push for a Negros one-island region.
Ferrer said his wife, 4th district Representative Juliet Marie Ferrer, and 5th district Representative Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” Arroyo (Love Negros), the sister-in-law of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are fully behind the UniTeam’s principal candidates.
“We have family ties,” Ferrer told Rappler on Monday, December 13. “I was always for his candidacy.”
Rep. Ferrer is the granddaughter of Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto. Former President Macapagal-Arroyo was instrumental in getting Davao Mayor Duterte to run as running mate of Marcos.
“Eighty percent of Negros Occidental officials are supporting Marcos,” said Himamaylan City Mayor Raymund Tongson, who took his oath as a Partido Federal ng Pilipinas member and is regional chairman of the Marcos-Duterte campaign.
On Saturday, December 11, Ferrer hosted a dinner for Abalos, inviting local officials to cement their commitment for the UniTeam of Marcos and Duterte.
While some in attendance, including Board Member and Philippine Councilors League (PCL) – Negros Occidental Chapter president Ryan Gamboa of Silay City, later clarified they did not give their commitment, most of those in the meeting confirmed their support for Marcos.
Ferrer said that aside from Tongson, other mayors for the UniTeam, are Melecio Yap of Escalante City, Ricardo Jaojoco of Toboso, Marxlen de la Cruz of Salvador Benedicto, John Rey Tabujara of Cauayan, Mark Golez of Silay City, Marvin Malacon of EB Magalona, Victor Gerardo Rojas of Murcia, Nicholas Yulo of Bago City, Jose Maria Alonso of Pontevedra, Jilson Tubillara of San Enrique, Alejandro Mirasol of Binalbagan, Rhumyla Mangilimutan of La Castellana, Ella Celestina Yulo of Moises Padilla. They were present in the meeting hosted by Ferrer.
The vice governor added Talisay City Mayor Neil Lizares to the list of UniTeam supporters. Lizares’ city administrator, Jonathan Ealdama attended the dinner in his stead.
Not all Marcos-Duterte supporters were present, Ferrer said, but had given their word, too. The vice governor said he would announce the complete list of UniTeam mayor-supporters within the week.
The board members for the UniTeam are Samson Mirhan of the second district; Andrew Montelibano, third district; Jose Benito Alonso, fourth district; Agustin Ernesto Bascon, fifth district; and Valentino Miguel Alonso, sixth district.
At least six other candidates for local positions attended the meeting to convey their support for Marcos-Duterte, Ferrer said.
The vice governor originally supported the candidacy of Senator Bong Go when President Rodrigo Duterte’s long-time aide initially filed as a vice presidential candidate.
A week later, Go tearfully declared that he would most likely withdraw his candidacy for the presidency.
Ferrer told Rappler in a telephone interview hat he would not back out from supporting Marcos and Sara even if Go does not officially withdraw his certificate of candidacy by December 15.
“If you’re running for the presidency, you can’t pause and announce and then still run,” Ferrer said in the Ilonggo language. “I think that affidavit is only a formality.”
Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante was also at the meeting but later told reporters he remains committed, as a PDP-Laban member, to Go’s candidacy.