Ilocos, Cordillera groups say no solid north, no to Marcos-Duterte


BAGUIO CITY — As they commemorated International Human Rights Day on December 10, various groups urged the Filipino people to block the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and presidential daughter, Sara Duterte, from taking the helm in 2022 as they belie claims of a Solid North.

Solid North refers to a political alliance among Ilocano provinces forged by Marcos Sr. during his time, which supposedly backs the presidential bid of the younger Marcos now.

But Tony Pugyao, chairperson of Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation) and a resident of Ilocos Norte, said that the Solid North, even then, was a lie.

Pugyao, who spoke in an online forum as part of the December 10 commemoration in Ilocos, shared that he was a first-time voter during the snap elections in 1986 when Corazon Aquino challenged the dictator. “I was a first-time voter but at the same time served as a poll watcher,” he added.

He further shared that the dictator’s campaign was for Aquino to get zero votes from the Solid North. He said that in the precinct he was watching alone, they saw some 26 ballots for Aquino but counted for Marcos.

“Solid North was a myth even then, because clearly there were 26 votes for Cory in our precinct, but it was not reflected in the official tally of votes,” he stressed.

According to Pugyao, the dictatorship did not spare Ilocanos from human rights violations. He said that hundreds of Ilocanos filed for indemnification for the atrocities they suffered under the Marcos dictatorship.

“I experienced the violence of Martial Law, and at the same time, I experienced the violence of the Duterte administration. The Duterte-Marcos tandem will only follow the violent and bloody footsteps of their fathers, and we should not allow that to happen,” he said.

Not all Ilocanos follow Marcos

San Fernando City native and La Union Peace and Justice Advocates spokesperson Mario Ben said that not all Ilocanos are die-hard supporters of the Marcoses. He stressed that even during Martial Law, there were Ilocanos like him and his family who stood against the dictatorship.

According to Ben, the Solid North myth stands on the cultural practice of Ilocanos of kinship, of helping out their fellow Ilocanos. “While it is true that kinship is an Ilocano trait, it is not a deciding factor in your political stand, especially when you are aware of the political and economic situations in the country,” he said.

Together with his two brothers, Ben was a victim of illegal arrest and detention during Martial Law. He said he was politicized in high school when he joined college students from his town to support workers’ strikes and research tobacco farmers’ exploitation. He shared that at 10, he had already witnessed how members of the Philippine Constabulary (Philippine National Police now) confiscated sample ballots of candidates running against the Marcoses and their local warlords’ allies, throwing them away.

He said that the proliferation of fake news was already present during Martial Law. He shared that authorities presented them with other arrested youth and some elderly as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“Enrile was a good at fabricating stories, in 1973, Manila Bulletin came out with a front-page story with a headline: Explosive Movement of the CPP captured, something like that, where a group of 10 youth and several elderlies were presented, we were included in that group, which was of course not true,” he said.

He further said that they were charged with higher offenses after being falsely accused as CPP members and were brought to Fort Bonifacio and detained for ten months.

“I remember when we first entered Fort Bonifacio, the Ilocano soldiers who were guards there said: ‘*****, Ilokano ka pay met, apay nga kontra ka kenni Marcos?’ ([Expletive], you are Ilocano, why are you against Marcos?). In my mind I thought, why are Ilocanos not allowed to stand up against injustice? But I could not verbalize my thoughts,” he added.

Ben also stressed that amid the threats to life and liberty during Martial Law, Ilocanos stood against the dictators’ policies and programs that were not beneficial to the people. He cited his family’s opposition to the 1973 Constitution promoted by Marcos, Sr., then.

Similarly, there are also Ilocanos against Marcos, Jr.’s presidential bid.

On December 7, Pudno Nga Ilocano (True Ilocano) filed a disqualification case before the Commission on Election against Marcos, Jr.

The group cited his conviction for tax evasion for failing to file his income tax returns and pay the corresponding deficiency taxes from 1982 to 1985.

The complainants said the younger Marcos should be disqualified “for having been sentenced by final judgment for a crime which carries with it a penalty of more than eighteen months and also for having been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude” as provided for by Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code.

‘No to Marcos-Duterte’

1Sambayan Cordillera convener Jeannette Ribaya-Cawiding said during the December 10 commemoration in Baguio City, the Duterte-Marcos tandem backed by the Arroyo and Estrada clique will worsen the already sorry state of human rights and the rule of law in the country. She added that the four political dynasties only combined forces to prolong their power.

Like the Marcos dictatorship, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term was marred with killings, gross human rights violations, and electoral fraud. Meanwhile, the people ousted former President Joseph Estrada for plunder.

Cawiding said that 1Sambayan failed to forge unity among other candidates to form a single slate against the Marcos-Duterte tandem. “But we hope to unify our votes and weaken these dynasties and achieve our objective to foil the return of the Marcoses in Malacanang,” she said.

She further said that her group, through discussions, was able to build principles of unity which they will present to their chosen candidates to include in their platforms. At the top of their list is “to uphold the rule of law and human rights. “We uphold the rule of law to attain good governance, which includes accountability to the laws of the land, implementation of both the constitution and its statute consistent with international norms and standards,” she explained.

According to Cawiding, 1Sambayan endorses the candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis Pangilinan for president and vice president. She said they chose the two after going through their track record, personal integrity, and winnability.

During Robredo’s visit to Baguio City on December 6, she expressed optimism on her fighting chance against Marcos, Jr., who has been topping recent poll surveys. She was in the city to attend the wedding of one of her staff, Paolo Salvosa.

“What makes the 2022 elections so different is that I don’t think this will be a conventional campaign. Moving around the country, we have seen people so invested that they are taking it upon themselves to campaign for us,” the vice president said when she spoke at the University of the Cordilleras before her supporters.

She said that she started at the bottom of the survey, just like when she ran for vice president, but she claimed that the numbers consistently rise daily.

Also, during the meet and greet, Paolo’s father, former UC President Ray Dean Salvosa, said that volunteers all over the country rallying behind Robredo launched a movement for “a critical battle for the soul of our nation.”

“You are not just volunteers. You are what makes this particular crusade, this movement more than a political campaign. Your willingness to do what in many ways has never been done before. Your commitment not just to cast your vote and your time and the kind of efforts you are doing has seldom been seen in the country. This is a movement that stemmed from the ground going up,” Salvosa said.

“You are showing the country and the rest of the world what it is like to be part of a campaign for justice, for doing what is right, for restoring the soul of this nation. The closest thing I can relate this to, is back in 1986, when Cory led the fight against the Marcos dictatorship. We are back in that time. So, thank you for joining us against all odds to prevent the return of another dark era in our country,” he added. #

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