2022 Philippine Elections

At last minute, Fariñas hits Marcoses’ divisive tactics in Ilocos Norte

Lian Buan

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At last minute, Fariñas hits Marcoses’ divisive tactics in Ilocos Norte

ILOCOS NORTE POLITICS. Former House Majority Leader Rudy Farinas speaks about the conflicted situation in Ilocos Norte running against the Marcoses with Bongbong running as president. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

Fariñas tells Robredo supporters in Ilocos Norte who wanted him to stand with them: 'I hope you understand my difficult situation'

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – Avoiding media all throughout the campaign, former House Majority Leader Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas had a mouthful to say on voting day Monday, May 9, claiming that the Marcoses of Ilocos Norte had used divisive tactics to maintain their political rule all these years up to congressional bid of 3rd generation Sandro Marcos.

Speaking from their home in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Fariñas the gubernatorial candidate said: “All the mayors are beholden to them. Kapag hindi nila kakampi, sinususpinde (If they don’t like the mayors, they get them suspended).”

Fariñas is the only non-Marcos to be governor of Ilocos Norte in the last 50 years. After his last term in 1998, presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. succeeded him and served for three terms. Bongbong was followed by Marcos family members, including Senator Imee Marcos up to incumbent Matthew Marcos Manotoc, son of Imee.

“During their term, sad to say, they did not have any projects. Maybe there were some in the 2nd District, but in the 1st District even if they have occupied the Capitol since I graduated in 1998, you go around our district, there’s been practically no project. Even provincial roads in the First District, I had them built,” Fariñas said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The Marcos and Fariñas families have kept peace between the two dynasties by dividing the political seats.

The First District belonged to the Fariñases’, with Rudy’s daughter Ria holding the congressional seat, and 2nd District to the Marcoses, with Bongbong’s cousin Angelo Marcos Barba.

In this year’s elections though, the Marcos family fielded Sandro to challenge Ria for the First District seat.

Fariñas said the local Team Marcos recruited barangay captains of the First District to their side by saying that if Ria wins as their representative, they wouldn’t have any budget.

“Where’s unity there? Maybe BBM [Bongbong Marcos] would not do that, maybe it’s just his people who does these things,” said Fariñases

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But Fariñas admitted that he would have fully supported Bongbong’s presidential candidacy if it weren’t for Sandro running against her daughter Ria. This, despite his description and assessment of the Marcoses’ leadership.

Yung Filipino instinct na natin, magkaibigan, magka-probinsiya, very strong kasi sa atin ‘yan eh. Ang Ilocanos kasi is known for being very clannish,” said Fariñas.

(Our Filipino instinct to support a friend, to support your province mate, that’s very strong.)

Fariñas said the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo asked for his support. 

“Si Leni naman colleague ko. She was with us in 2013 to 2016. Nung namatay ang anak kong si JR nagpunta siya dito. Magkaibigan naman kami, kaso mahirap naman dahil malalim ang samahan namin ni BBM at ka-probinsya namin,” said Fariñas.

(Leni is my colleague. She was with us in 2013 to 2016 at the lower house. When my son JR died, she went here. We are friends, but it’s difficult because BBM and I go way back, and he’s my province mate.)

Candidly, Fariñas said they couldn’t support Robredo because it would turn off Ilocos Norte residents who would vote for Bongbong but who would potentially also vote for Team Fariñas.

“I cannot because the great majority of our people support BBM. There are a lot of people here who support BBM, but at the local level, they support us, so that’s the balance,” said Fariñas.

Speaking in Ilocano, Fariñas has a message for Ilocano Robredo supporters who had expected him to be an opposition leader for them in Ilocos Norte: “I hope you understand because the situation is difficult especially for me because my daughter’s fight is at stake.”

Sandro had made strong statements against Team Fariñas before, including saying that he doesn’t believe Ria was more experienced than him. In March, Sandro said when Ria became congresswoman in 2019, he had also begun working at the office of his uncle, Representative Martin Romualdez.

On Monday, Ria said she began working at the lower house as his father’s chief of staff in 2010. In between, she served as provincial board member until she was elected representative in 2019.

“In terms of experience, there’s no comparison,” said Ria Fariñas

After voting in Laoag Monday, Sandro said in Filipino: “Good luck to her. I hope she knows na whatever we went through in politics, whatever we experienced in the campaign, I still consider her a friend.”

“Actually I only met him a couple of times in Congress but just the same, I also wish him the best of luck and I wish him well,” said Ria.

Should Bongbong win as president, Rudy Fariñas said in Filipino: “If they win and they fulfill their promise, it would be good for our province. As we always say the winners and losers are the people, if they get to choose the right candidate, they win. But if their bet does not fulfill their promise, they also lose.” – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.