MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The tandem of presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and running mate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr will share the campaign stage for the first time as they kick off their 2016 bid in Ilocos Norte, on Tuesday, February 9.
Santiago and Marcos will launch their campaign at the Imelda Marcos Cultural Center in Batac City. After a short program, the tandem will proceed to Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University for a youth forum and a campus tour.
In the afternoon, Marcos will head to the ancestral city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur to speak with community leaders and local supporters.
Both candidates' camps refused to say why the first day of the tandem's campaign will be in the Marcos bailiwick instead of Iloilo City, Santiago's home town.
Consolidating the Ilocos vote
Batac is central to Ilocano politics, as it is the hometown of the Marcoses. It is the birthplace of the patriarch of the Marcos clan, the late congressman Mariano Marcos, the father of the late strongman The preserved remains of strongman Ferdinand Marcos is on public display at the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Batac, a local tourist attraction.
For the rest of the first campaign week, Marcos will be visiting other provinces of the Ilocos region such as La Union and Pangasinan.
The Marcoses are known to command the so-called "Ilocano vote." Based on the latest data from the Commission on Elections, Region 1 has a voter population of 2.5 million, or 4.5% of the country’s total voting population.
Pangasinan alone has 1.7 million voters followed by La Union with 454,778. Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte have 411, 951 and 378,786 voters, respectively.
Santiago, however, is not expected to be on the Ilocos campaign trail with her running mate.
The two, who have been tagged as an “odd pairing,” have been visiting areas separately before the campaign season, unlike their contenders who have been seen together in public engagements these past several months.
Marcos has been going around a few Metro Manila cities while Santiago has granted speaking engagements in a number of schools. One of Santiago’s staff members earlier told Rappler that she will be focusing on speaking engagements than doing rounds in local areas.
At age 70, and with her recent battle with lung cancer, some say it would be hard for the feisty lady senator to mount a vigorous campaign like what she did in 1992, when she first ran for the highest post in the land. – Rappler.com