BUKIDNON, Philippines – Presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. gave Vice President Leni Robredo quite a beating in Sumilao town in Bukidnon province, where she had helped farmers reclaim their ancestral land as a lawyer in 2007.
Marcos won in Sumilao with 9,516 votes, followed by Robredo who garnered 3,596 votes – a difference of 5,920 votes.
It was an upset win for Marcos in Sumilao, where a small group from an indigenous people’s community marched from Northern Mindanao to Manila again to campaign for Robredo in the presidential race.
When they reached the country’s capital on April 28, the farmers joined in some of the huge rallies of the Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan tandem.
Many years before Robredo was elected to public office, the same group traveled and marched from Sumilao town to Metro Manila to demand their ancestral land. They were received by Robredo and her late husband, then-mayor Jesse Robredo, in Naga City, and the two even marched side by side with them.
Robredo won the vice presidential race in Bukidnon in 2016, where she garnered 211,512 over Marcos’ 127,688 that year. She won in Sumilao that year with 6,258 votes, followed by Marcos with 2,079 votes.
In 2022, Robredo’s best finish in Bukidnon was only in Sumilao and provincial capital Malaybalay, where she also ranked second. She placed third in all other areas, and also overall in the province, behind Senator Many Pacquiao.
Marcos topped the presidential race in Bukidnon where the ruling political dynasty – the Zubiris – declared support for the son of the late dictator. He got 507,566 votes in Bukidnon, while Pacquiao got 129,784 votes, and Robredo, 79,452.
Even the Zubiri family’s political rivals – the Roques – threw their support behind Marcos and his running mate, the now presumptive vice president Sara Duterte.
Stephen Sanchez, the lead convenor of Valencia City for Leni, blamed Robredo’s defeat on the massive disinformation campaign carried out against the vice president on social media since 2016.
“They were spreading lies for that long, and we only had less than six months to refute them, tell the truth, and show the voters that VP Leni was the better candidate. We simply did not have the time and the resources to compete with their well-oiled propaganda and political machinery,” said Sanchez.
Meanwhile, Bukidnon 4th District Representative Rogelio “Oneil” Roque defeated the son of outgoing Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, Manuel, also a congressman, and was proclaimed winner by the province’s board of election canvassers. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship