Solid North vs. Solid South

by Perry Diaz

The next president could either be the son or daughter of a former president.  I am talking about Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., former senator and son of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the incumbent president Rodrigo Duterte.

I postulated in my column “Battle of Titans looms” (June 11, 2021) that the fight would be between a Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem vs. Pacquiao and his handpicked running mate. At that time, Sara Duterte said she wouldn’t commit to running for president.

Then on July 9th, a reporter in Cebu asked Sara if she was open to run for president in 2022. She answered, “Yes.” That changed the calculus of the 2022 presidential election.

Solid North
While I am not discounting the election of another candidate, this article puts in juxtaposition the two candidates who command strong followings.  Bongbong’s bailiwick is the region referred to as the “Solid North,” the predominantly Ilocano-speaking people – particularly those of Ilocandia – who were and still are clannishly supportive of the late president Marcos and his family. Until now, Ilocanos reverentially refer to him as Apo Lakay.

Since Philippine independence, Ilocanos have dominated the presidential elections by electing Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay, Ferdinand Marcos, and Fidel Ramos. And now Bongbong wants to join the Ilocano Presidents’ Club in the forthcoming 2022 election.

In 2016, Bongbong came second place with 14,155,344 votes at 34.47% to Leni Robredo’s 14,418,817 votes at 35.11%. Marcos led in the northern parts of Luzon – the “Solid North” – his home region Ilocos, plus the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Cagayan Valley, a huge block of votes.

Solid South
Sara’s stronghold is being referred to as the “Solid South.” However, the south region, which is Mindanao, has not been tested as being solid, except in 2016 when Duterte ran for president. “Solid South” is being touted as solidly for Duterte.

But the difference between Solid North and Solid South is that the Solid North is predominantly Ilocano-speaking region while the Solid South is a mixture of Visayans, and a motley group of Muslim and indigenous Filipinos speaking different languages and dialects. As the Ilocanos have proven, language is a unifying element in their clannishness.

If Marcos can hold on to 34% share of the 2016 voters, he’d be competitive in the 2022 election. Sara Duterte and Robredo are his nearest rivals. With three others – Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno, Grace Poe – and a few wannabes, the presidential race could be won by whoever gets 35% of the vote.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) placed the number of registered voters in the 2016 election at 55,735,757. The biggest chunk of voters came from Luzon provinces with 30 million, followed by Mindanao provinces with almost 13 million and Visayan provinces with 11 million. There are 38 provinces in Luzon, 27 provinces in Mindanao and 16 provinces in the Visayas. The turnout in the 2016 election was 81.5%, which would place the number of those who voted at 45,424,642.

Marcos’s 23-province haul in Luzon in 2016 was the biggest among the vice presidential candidates. Marcos got not only the “Solid North” vote of the four Ilocos Region provinces but was also the winner in all six provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region. He also took the top spot in six out of seven provinces in vote-rich Region 3 or Central Luzon. In Region 2 or the Cagayan Valley, four out of five provinces gave him the greatest number of votes for vice president.

All in all, Marcos took a total of 33 provinces – 23 in Luzon, eight in Mindanao and two in the Visayas.

In Mindanao, Marcos was the top choice in all four Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and General Santos) provinces, and also Dinagat Islands, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Sulu.

Is Leni Robredo running?
How about vice president Leni Robredo? Nobody is even sure if she’s going to run for president. She declared that she’s open to run for president on the condition that there’s only one opposition candidate. But her main problem is money where more would be needed to spend in a crowded field.

She doesn’t have the financial wherewithal she needs to launch an effective campaign to win. She admitted that herself. With Sara Duterte, Bongbong Marcos, and Manny Pacquiao having all the money to buy themselves an election, Robredo would probably just run for governor of her home province of Camarines Sur, where she’d be a sure winner. Or she could be the vice presidential running mate of Pacquiao who is capable of funding Robredo’s candidacy.

When Rodrigo Duterte ran 2016, he only got eight provinces in Luzon, five in the Visayas, and 23 in Mindanao. But he only won in Ilocos Norte and lost in the rest of Northern Luzon. His win was mainly due to the support he got from the Marcoses who endorsed him.

Duterte did not get all of the Mindanao provinces. However, he was deemed as supported by the “Solid South,” which is debatable right now. Incidentally, Duterte won only in Ilocos Norte and lost in the rest of Northern Luzon.

A survey conducted from June 7 to 16 showed Sara Duterte-Carpio taking up the number one slot in the list, with 32 percentage points (which is attributed to her father’s popularity); Manila Mayor Isko Moreno placed second with 29 percent; Bongbong got the third spot with 18 percentage points; and Senator Manny Pacquiao in fourth place with 13 percentage points. Moreno’s strong showing speaks for the good things that he’s done for Manila.

The 2022 presidential election could be a repeat of the 1992 presidential election when heavyweight candidates ran that included Fidel Ramos, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Danding Cojuangco, Imelda Marcos, Ramon Mitra, Salvador Laurel, and Jovito Salonga. Ramos won with 23.58%, followed by Santiago with 19.72%, and Cojuangco with 18.17%.

Voters for the 2022 presidential election will be a battle between the Solid South and Solid North, which would put the Ilocanos against the Mindanaoenos.

The question is: Can Sara Duterte repeat her father’s electoral record of 16,601,997 votes in 2016? Or can she surpass Bongbong’s 15,444,378 votes in 2016?

It would seem that the 2022 presidential election would be a contest between the Solid North and the Solid South.

 is a writer, columnist and journalist who has been published in more than a dozen Filipino newspapers in five countries.

Read More PerryScope:

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