By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. is now a member of the ruling party Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), which he said is a better political move “for the total development of the province.”

Defensor and several other officials took their oath as a new member of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s political party in a ceremony held in Malacañang on Thursday.

Defensor said he was personally invited by the Special Assistant to the President Secretary Anton Lagdameo and League of Provinces of the Philippines President and South Cotabato Governor Jun Tamayo to join PFP.

The Iloilo governor explained that the switching of parties among elected officials is dependent on the circumstances.

“It is because of the circumstances. As the local chief executive of a local government unit, which is under the national government, it is because of the political structure of the government,” he explained.

Defensor stressed that switching to PFP brings an “alignment [which] is better for the total development of the province.”

“Sang umpisa pa lang, when our term started kag pagkatapos na sang election kag tapos na ang panahon sang politika, umpisa naman ang panahon sang panghimanwa,” he continued.

Defensor Jr. shifted his political allegiance two weeks after hobnobbing with former vice president and defeated presidential bet Leni Robredo who visited her supporters and attended the induction and 50th anniversary celebration of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Iloilo chapter.

It is also worth noting that Defensor Jr.’s father, former Iloilo governor Arthur Defensor Sr., took on the mantle of a “freedom fighter” during the martial law rule of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr., father of the incumbent president.

Defensor Sr. was even appointed by the late president Cory Aquino to the Presidential Commission on Good Government which was tasked to trace and recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth after 21 years in power.

The Defensor clan was also one of the main campaigners of Robredo in Iloilo when the latter ran for president last year.

In fact, 3rd district Rep. Lorenz Defensor and Board Member Jason Gonzales, brother and cousin of Gov. Defensor Jr., respectively, were active organizers of the Robredo campaign.


As a new member of the president’s political party, Defensor sees there is even greater potential for his administration to successfully carry out initiatives and projects for the province.

He believes that the decision affords the province “more practical terms” in the construction of major infrastructures, particularly the proposed 210-kilometer Iloilo-Capiz-Aklan Expressway, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges Project, and the expansion and development of the Iloilo International Airport.

“As a local chief executive, mas may bintaha para sa probinsya natun ang alignment natun with the administration,”

Defensor said he also informed the National Unity Party (NUP), his previous political party, of his decision to switch to PFP.

“Gin eksplekar man natun ang aton nga sirkumstansya kag nainchindihan man sang aton nga ginhalinan nga partido,” he said.

This is not the first time Defensor jumped from one party to another.

In 2017, he left the Liberal Party (LP) to join the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) where he eventually became the party’s Iloilo provincial chair. In 2021, he then abandoned the PDP-LABAN and joined NUP.

Marcos, who administered the oath-taking, said PFP is forming an alliance with “like-minded” political forces to prepare for all the political cycles, particularly the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

“The barangay elections have a big impact, have a big effect on how the 2025 elections will turn out… Kung tayo magiging kandidato, mananalo tayo sa 2025, kailangan natin ng suporta ng barangay level,” he said.

“That is why it was incumbent upon us to now immediately try and organize ourselves so that we are prepared because there is always a synergy,” Marcos added.

Defensor is currently in his second term.


Daily Guardian is still trying to get the reaction of Iloilo 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, the provincial chair of PFP in Iloilo.

While they understand the practical rationale of Defensor Jr. in aligning with the Marcos administration, some hardcore Robredo supporters said they were dismayed by the latest political development.

One Defensor-Robredo supporter who agreed to be quoted anonymously said their stand was not just political but a matter of principle.

“The Marcoses have yet to take responsibility for the atrocities and crushing of civil liberties during the dark martial law years. That was our main motivation why we supported them in the 2022 elections against Marcos Jr. While it was inconvenient for some of us, we can never give up on our principles and beliefs,” the supporter added.

Another supporter said they are not surprised by the move since politicians are always expected to shift allegiance.

“I hope that it’s for the good of everyone. But that should not erase and dilute history, especially the Martial Law era under the Marcoses,” the supporter said.