Tourism official draws flak for calling Bongbong Marcos ‘vice president’

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2020 01:40 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2020 03:55 PM

Courtesy of DOT Region 1 Facebook Page

MANILA (UPDATE) – Department of Tourism Region 1 Director Jeff Ortega topped the Twitter trending list in the Philippines Tuesday after he was caught on a now viral video introducing former Sen. Bongbong Marcos as vice president.

Netizens slammed Ortega for what they described as blatant disrespect for Vice President Leni Robredo, who was duly elected as the second highest official in the land. 

Robredo defeated Marcos in the 2016 vice-presidential race by over 263,000 votes, the closest in recent memory.

On Instagram, Ortega introduced Marcos as “former senator and vice president” during the launch of the region’s tourism branding. The Marcos family continues to command strong following in their bailiwick Ilocos Norte in the region.

From Jeff Ortega's Instagram post via Jeff Canoy

The video, which he posted on Oct. 20 in his official Instagram page that has now been set private, was viewed over 13,000 times as of writing.

“We only have one duly-elected VP and that’s VP @lenirobredo. So please get over of your illusion, Jeff Ortega,” one Twitter user wrote.

Another said, “Public office is public trust. You cannot proclaim Marcos as vice president when it is public knowledge that it is far from truth. Jeff Ortega should be dismissed for blatant disregard of the law and constitution!”

According to the Department of Tourism (DOT) Ilocos Region’s Facebook Page, the event took place at the Sitio Remedios Heritage Village in Currimao, Ilocos Norte.

The launch of the agency’s newest campaign "Find the ONE in Region 1" was attended by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Marcos’ nephew Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, and Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson.

Ortega, who comes from a prominent political clan in La Union, was appointed tourism director in Ilocos Region in September 2019. 

Before holding public office, he was an entrepreneur and known as the boyfriend of actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

Marcos poll protest pending

After the 2016 polls, the defeated vice-presidential candidate, the only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, filed an election protest to contest his loss to Robredo over alleged irregularities.

The case remains pending before the Supreme Court, which acts as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

During PET’s initial count, Robredo’s winning margin grew by more than 15,0000 votes, prompting her camp to urge the high tribunal to dismiss Marcos’ election protest because of failure to show “substantial recovery” in the recount.

In response to the issue, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reminded its employees “to perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence and professionalism.”

“We remain guided by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) especially in expressing views on current political problems or issues,” the agency said.

According to a joint circular previously issued by the CSC, civil servants are mandated by law to uphold political neutrality in the conduct of their duties. – With a report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News