Why Honasan is skipping Binay’s Ilocos sorties
MANILA, Philippines – As Vice President Jejomar Binay began his rounds in the Ilocos region over the weekend, one man was missing by his side: running mate Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II.
The 4-term senator was nowhere in sight as Binay and some of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial bets held rallies, motorcades, and met with locals in La Union starting Friday, March 11.
Honasan, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) batch 1971, did not join Binay when he attended the PMA graduation rites on Sunday.
The UNA vice president also does not plan to join the UNA sorties in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte this week.
Asked why, Honasan told Rappler he plans to campaign solo in the North, a known bailiwick of vice presidential candidate and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
“With the permission of UNA and VP, I have already planned my own sorties to the North to cover more ground,” said Honasan, who added that his solo visit to the Ilocos region is still being finalized.
According to UNA president and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, Honasan is planning to tap into the local network of the Philippine Guardians Brotherhood Incorporated, an organization consisting of retired military and civilian members.
Honasan, a soldier for 17 years and a rebel for 7 more, used to be the organization’s chairperson.
“As you know, his core support comes from the Guardians. Gringo requested that he be given more time to meet the local chapters of Guardians. Of course we agreed,” said Tiangco.
Ground support for Bin-Go
The latest The Standard Poll by Laylo Research Strategies showed that Binay is the second presidential candidate preferred by Ilocanos, closely behind frontrunner Senator Grace Poe.
In the vice presidential race, Honasan has been trailing other candidates and remains at single-digit voter preference rating.
Tiangco said Honasan’s plan to campaign on his own solo, at least this week, would not cost him votes, since Vice President endorses Honasan in his speeches.
“It’s important that he (Honasan) talks directly to his core supporters. And Gringo is the ideal VP candidate. He wants to ensure the Guardians will not only support him, but also support Binay,” said Tiangco.
“It’s not only for that region but all areas in general,” he added.
Honasan previously said he would wage an “effective ground war” in his bid for the vice presidency.
Conflicts in history
But this is easier said than done – the Marcos family is known to command the so-called “Ilocano vote.” Region 1 has about 2.5 million Filipinos registered for the May polls.
While Honasan trails behind with 5% in the latest Social Weather Stations survey, Marcos shares the top spot with Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero in the vice presidential surveys. (READ: Gringo Honasan's birthday wish: Wisdom for voters)
Marcos is the son of the late dictator, a revered figures in the Ilocos region. Marcos was Binay’s top choice as his running mate, but the senator declined the Vice President’s offer over the “political divide” between both camps.
Binay was a human rights lawyer who fought the Marcos dictatorship. Honasan, meanwhile, was a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement and helped then-defense minister and now Senator Juan Ponce Enrile plan a mutiny against the elder Marcos.
The plan was foiled, but led to the EDSA People Power revolution that toppled the Marcos administration and installed Corazon “Cory” Aquino as president in 1986.
Despite this history, Honasan remains steadfast that he could woo voters in the Marcoses’ northern territory.
“[I can convince Ilocanos to vote for me] with UNA’s platform [of] poverty alleviation, job generation, generic security, the courage of my convictions, and the audacity to make things happen or die trying,” he said. – Rappler.com
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