2022 Philippine Elections

Will vote-rich Bulacan be a close fight between Marcos and Robredo?

Lian Buan
Will vote-rich Bulacan be a close fight between Marcos and Robredo?

UniTeam presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. waves to supporters during a campaign sortie in Sta. Maria, Bulacan on March 8, 2022. Allan Peter Sinco/PonD News Asia

Marcos took Bulacan in 2016, edging out Robredo in the province by 190,000. This time, Robredo gets the backing of the governor.

BULACAN, Philippines – “Kulay pula at berde ang Bulacan (Bulacan is red and green),” screamed one poster in the middle of the crowd in Guiguinto, Bulacan, meaning to say that the province supports Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte who held three rallies here on Tuesday, March 8.

It was their desired rebuke to the massive rally of Vice President Leni Robredo in Malolos on March 5, which her camp said was attended by 45,000, with no less than Governor Daniel Fernando introducing her as “president.”

But Vice Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado said Bulacan is for Marcos. Alvarado, who had served as governor for three terms from 2010 to 2019, is running for governor again – this time against Fernando.

Endorsing Marcos at a rally in Guiguinto, Alvarado said: “Hindi hati ang Bulacan…Sa paglilibot ko po, lalo na sa malayong lugar, Bongbong Marcos po. Una inaapi siya, ayaw ng mga tao ng inaapi.” (Bulacan is not divided… As I went around, especially in far-flung places, it’s for Bongbong Marcos. First because he is always being criticized and people don’t like that.)

In the 2016 vice presidential elections, Marcos won Bulacan with 556,480 votes, while Robredo came in second with 366,079 votes. Former senator Chiz Escudero got the other big chunk – 226,311.

For the 2022 elections, there are 2,007,523 votes up for grabs in the province.

Crowds and stubs

How many can Alvarado deliver for Marcos? The longtime politician said he could not say. Alvarado will be busy campaigning for himself also, having to go against his longtime ally, the reelectionist Fernando.

“We are only starting. But if you base it during the last elections, [remember that] Marcos won,” said Alvarado.

But Robredo has the backing of the incumbent governor, and her volunteers managed to pull a big surprise during the March 5 Malolos rally.

Alvarado dismissed the Malolos rally, insinuating that it was non-organic, an accusation that Robredo’s supporters have taken to social media to protest, listing how much they spent from their own pockets just to be able to attend the rally.

“Ang mga tao’y madaling mabulag sa mga nakikita, pero ang totoo, ito ba ay mga tunay na nagpunta…I don’t want to comment on that,” said Alvarado.

(People can be blinded easily by what they see, but the truth is….were they real? I don’t want to comment on that.)

The Marcos camp’s rallies here, however, failed to draw an impressive crowd.

In Guiguinto, only the covered part of the arena was filled. In Meycauayan, supporters managed to pack a small indoor college gymnasium. But the grand rally in Sta. Maria had many empty seats; an entire portion left of the stage was nearly empty.

Rappler also saw attendees in Guiguinto being given stubs and who were also asked to fill out forms with their names, addresses and signatures. Attendees told Rappler they were to claim food at the stalls nearby. The stub also looked like a raffle ticket, but no one could say if there was indeed a raffle.

Alvarado said he was not aware that stubs were distributed during the rally. “Anong stubs? Hindi ko alam yan (Which stubs? I am not aware of it.)”

Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez also said, “I have no idea,” when asked about it after the rally in Sta Maria at around 5 pm.

Reporters also asked Marcos about yet another previous court ruling that’s hounding him, but he walked past them.

For one supporter in Guiguinto, the controversies surrounding her candidate don’t matter. Speaking through a microphone, she said: “Nakikipag-away po ako sa Facebook just to say na hindi totoo ang sinasabi nila na magnanakaw or anything. Hindi naman po ito napatunayan.” (I get into fights on Facebook just to say it’s not true what they say that you are a thief or anything. This has not been proven.)

– Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.