Ilocos Norte remains 'Marcos country'

Posted at 05/14/13 4:31 AM

Former first lady Imelda Marcos (right) greets supporters from her tour bus on the campaign trail in the town of Banna, Ilocos Norte province. Photo by Ted Aljibe, AFP

MANILA, Philippines - Former First Lady Imelda Marcos and her daughter Imee are cruising to victories in the elections held Monday.

Imelda, the widow of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos, is running for reelection as representative of Ilocos Norte's 2nd congressional district.

She has 86,673 votes as of 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to latest partial and unofficial results from the Comelec Transparency Server.

Her closest opponent, independent candidate Ferdinand Ignacio, only has 9,753 votes.

Marcos's daughter Imee is running unopposed in her reelection bid as Ilocos Norte governor.

Imee has 198,692 votes so far.

Catholic priest Danilo Laeda earlier told Agence France-Presse that the Marcos family is genuinely liked in the dry, sun-baked region due to the enduring political largesse of good roads and other infrastructure in the Marcos era. 

"And they see Bongbong as the personification of the father," Laeda, the parish priest of San Nicolas town, said.

However, Laeda acknowledged that the air was rife with rumors that the Marcos family was giving out lots of money directly to voters to buy their support for allies seeking local elective posts.

Imelda's rival candidate Ignacio has claimed that she illegally spent huge pork barrel funds and farm levies collected from tobacco products ahead of the vote for pet projects such as the "mothering centers" and buses for farmers.

"They (Marcoses) are not popular, they are just moneyed people. They buy people here, that's why they're winning the elections," Ignacio, a 49-year-old lawyer from Paoay, told AFP.

Marcos dismissed her rival's allegations of vote-buying, illegal use of government funds and general corruption.

"I always take criticism as some kind of advice, but sometimes it's ridiculous advice or criticism.... we don't wallow in what is not positive," she said. - with a report from Agence France-Presse