Isko woos 'Solid North' with wit as team launches offensive vs Bongbong

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2022 11:40 AM

NAGTIPUNAN, Quirino - Aksyon Demokratiko on Thursday launched a two-prong offensive against former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., hitting the presidential race frontrunner with direct attacks, and a soft appeal to voters in Marcos bailiwicks Quirino and Isabela.

In this town where the Marcos family has been known for decades, Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso appealed to Marcos Jr.'s supporters with a candid request: "Consider voting for me even if I am not your regional neighbor, even if I do not speak your regional language."

Instead of saying he is a better choice than the candidate of the so-called "Solid North," the Manila Mayor laid out his achievements in the capital city and interspersed these with jokes to the crowd's delight.

"Halimbawa 5 kayo sa pamilya, 5 kayong botante, yung 3 bigay mo sa kaniya, yung 2 akin," he told voters here.

(For example, there are 5 of you in the family, you have 5 votes. You can give 3 votes to him and the remaining 2 to me.)

"Nasunod mo na ang damdamin mo, napagbigyan mo pa ako... pero kung ayaw mo talaga, puwede 5 na sa akin. Charot," he quipped.

(You have followed your heart, and you also gave me some consideration... But if you really don't want this division of votes, you can just give all 5 to me. Just kidding.)

When asked about his chances of getting a slice of votes from Marcos' "Solid North," Domagoso said: "Lagi kong pinaniniwalaan na hanggat hindi pa halalan, hindi pa nagdedesisyon ang taongbayan."

(I always believe that the people have not decided until the elections have not yet happened.)

"Kaya tayo nandito dahil naniniwala ako na bagamat sabi nila sa kalsada na teritoryo ito ng isang kandidato, e siguro wala namang masama na suyuin natin yung ating mga kababayan."

(We are here because I believe that while the people in the streets say that this is the territory of a certain candidate, there is nothing wrong in wooing our countrymen.)

In 2016, when Marcos Jr. ran for vice president, Isabela delivered 504,463 votes for the late dictator's scion, giving him a 417,000 edge against then-congresswoman Leni Robredo.

In Quirino, Marcos Jr. got 49,158 votes, some 34,000 votes away from Robredo, while neighboring Cagayan province boosted Marcos' numbers by 324,467, with the Liberal Party's bet lagging behind by some 320,000 votes.

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Despite these numbers from the last national elections, Domagoso said he still keeps his "wishful thinking."

"Kwinentas klaras ko sila or maybe mineet ko na sila half way para hindi ko na ma-cross yung ibang damdamin," he said.

(I gave them a clear computation or maybe I even met them half way so that I would not cross some of their feelings.)

"I'll do the same thing over and over again. Ang bulalo, matigas man ito ay lalambot at lalambot din. Papakuluan ko lang ng papakuluan," he said.

(I'll do the same over and over again. Even if the beef shank is hard, it will eventually soften. I will just keep on boiling and boiling it.)

AKSYON TAKES ACTION

While Domagoso was busy trying to covert votes from Cagayan Valley with his charisma and jokes, his campaign manager Lito Banayo and Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel Jr. invited the media to a press conference in their campaign headquarters in Intramuros.

In that forum, Domagoso's allies reminded the public about Marcos Jr.'s tax issues, educational background, track record and media no-shows --- issues which have been hounding the presidential race frontrunner, but seems to not put a dent against his survey numbers.

"Bongbong Marcos is a coward,” said Banayo, who skipped joining Domagoso's Cagayan Valley sorties for this press conference.

Marcos has been skipping presidential debates and interviews with veteran journalists because he has a lot of things to hide, he said.

Ramel focused on Marcos Jr.'s questionable Oxford University degree and his failure to settle millions-worth of tax dues for several decades.

"Ang ganitong klaseng karakter at pag-uugali ay hindi dapat tinutularan at lalong hindi dapat inihahalal bilang pangulo," the chairman of Aksyon Demokratiko said.

(This kind of character and behavior should not be followed and more so be elected as president.)

'TARGETING TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS'

The latest strategy of Domagoso's camp is "something that is expected in a crucial campaign run," said Arjan Aguirre, a political science professor from the Ateneo de Manila University.

"They need to recover those lost points in the previous months," he told ABS-CBN News Digital in a text message.

About 80 days before the 2022 polls, Marcos Jr.'s pre-election numbers remain steady, consistently getting more than 50 percent of respondents' support each month.

In Pulse Asia's January 2022 survey, Domagoso shared the third spot with Sen. Manny Pacquiao, each getting 8 percent, while former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. topped the polls with 60 percentage points.

"These two diverse messagings are meant to target two different types of groups: soft-Marcos supporters and soft-anti-Marcos supporters," Aguirre said.

"His visit to the solid north is meant to weaken the Marcos stronghold, while the media statements made in the capital by his handlers are meant to court the people who have access to mainstream media and social media," he said.

Domagoso said he is also trying to study the problems in each town he passes by to craft more fitting solutions.

"Ayoko silang papangunahan dahil baka mayroon akong iniisip na hindi naman fit sa kanilang mga pangarap," he said.

(I don't want to get ahead of them because what I might come up with might not fit their aspirations.)

"Matatalino ang mga Pilipino. Boboto sila base sa mga pangarap nilang ginagawa ng pamahalaan, hindi lang dahil sa lenguwahe o teritoryo," he said.

(Filipinos are smart. They will vote base on the kind of government they want to have, not just based on language and territory.)