By Cristina Arzadon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:34:00 12/03/2009
Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Local authorities, Family
LAOAG CITY—Former first lady Imelda Marcos is seeking the seat that will be left by her son, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who will run for senator in next year’s elections.
Imelda, through a representative, filed her certificate of candidacy (CoC) for representative of Ilocos Norte’s second district on Tuesday night. She will face former Vice Gov. Mariano Nalupta Jr.
But the entry of the 80-year-old widow of strongman Ferdinand Marcos in Ilocos Norte politics is only a sidelight to a bigger political drama unfolding in the province.
Ordinary residents and political leaders alike are keenly watching how the plan of her daughter, former Rep. Imee Marcos, to challenge the reelection bid of her cousin, Gov. Michael Keon, would create a crack within the Marcos clan.
Imelda gained global notoriety for her jet-setting lifestyle and flamboyance during her husband’s rule of the Philippines from 1966 to 1986.
She has been accused of profiting from massive corruption during the Marcos years, particularly after her husband declared martial law in 1972, but she has never been jailed for any crime.
The Marcos family fled to Hawaii in 1986 after a popular revolt toppled the dictator from power. After her husband’s death, Imelda returned to the country in 1991 and made an unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1992.
She was elected to Congress and served from 1995 to 1998, representing her home province of Leyte.
Imee, the eldest of the Marcoses’ children, surprised Ilocanos when she entered the gubernatorial race, which Keon could easily win on his second term with the support of the Marcoses.
Lakas vs NP
Keon is running under the ruling Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats coalition, and local leaders believe that the Marcoses may have junked him because of his alliance with the administration party. Lakas-Kampi-CMD is fielding former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. as standard-bearer.
Bongbong, Keon’s cousin and guest candidate of the Nacionalista Party, is expected to deliver the Ilocano votes to Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., the NP presidential candidate.
A local leader, who asked anonymity for fear of courting the ire of other provincial leaders, said the Marcoses might have been embarrassed by statements attributed to Keon that he would only support Bongbong and not Villar and his NP ticket.
“Why would they blame Keon for drawing the line between party loyalty and family ties?” the source said.
The cousins have yet to issue statements on their plans and the impact of the new political alliances.
Fariñas vs Ablan
In another surprise development, former Gov. Rodolfo Fariñas filed his CoC for representative of the first district, a post that will be vacated by Rep. Roque Ablan Jr.
Ablan, on the other hand, filed his CoC for governor as an independent candidate.
Fariñas, who will run under the NP, told reporters that Imee and Bongbong offered him to run under Villar’s camp.
“I did not ask to run … I was offered and I accepted [the offer] for the sake of unity in the province,” Fariñas said after filing his CoC on Tuesday night.
“I even asked them whether this was for real. They (Marcoses) said yes,” he added.
Fariñas said he recognized the Marcoses’ leadership in Ilocos Norte and it was an honor to join their camp.
Asked whether there was any talk about the supposed falling out between the Marcos cousins, Fariñas said the Marcoses told him about it but he was in no position to share the information.
The entry of Fariñas in the congressional race also marked the reunion between the Fariñas and Marcos families. They were in opposing camps during the 2007 elections.
Fariñas ran and lost as governor to Keon, with the latter enjoying the support of the Marcos siblings.
To cement Solid North for Villar
The reconciliation is widely believed as a move that would cement the so-called Solid North votes for Villar.
Fariñas will be up against Ablan’s son, Board Member Kristian Ablan, lawyer Alfonso Ruiz, former Pagudpud Mayor Reynolan Sales and Board Member Renato Peralta, Fariñas’ brother-in-law.
Another interesting match-up is the vice gubernatorial contest between another Imee Marcos’ cousin and running mate, Board Member Yvonne Ranada (KBL), and Keon’s running mate, Board Member Angelo Barba (Lakas-Kampi-CMD).
In Leyte, Imelda Marcos’ clan, the Romualdezes, is expected to continue their political grip, at least in the first district of the province and in Tacloban City, which is no longer under the administrative control of the provincial government since it was declared a highly urbanized city December last year.
Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) of the first district is seeking a second term against the Liberal Party candidate, Feliciano Clemencio.
Romualdez’s cousin Alfred is seeking a second term as Tacloban mayor with his father Bejo as running mate. Bejo served as city mayor for three terms until 2007.
Alfred’s wife, former actress Cristina Gonzalez, who topped the 2007 elections in the 10-member city council, is expected to have an easy victory next year. With reports from Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas, and Agence France-Presse