Marcos Jr. continues to woo ‘Ilonggo nation’ 

By Alex P. Vidal 

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” —Alexander the Great

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has continued to accelerate his efforts to woo the “Ilonggo nation” by going straight to Antique and Negros Occidental June 27 to personally distribute financial assistance from the Presidential Assistance to Farmers and Fisherfolk (PAFF) for farmers and fisherfolk in Western Visayas recently hit by El Niño.

He could have delegated the distribution of cash assistance to his minions, but the President knew he needed to make his presence felt more in other “hostile” areas nationwide in a hope to consolidate the support of the local government units (LGUs), thus he gave them the priority just when the LGUs needed Malacanang’s support most.

The “Ilonggo nation” is composed of Hiligaynon-speaking regions or provinces, cities, and municipalities that didn’t go “all-out” for Mr. Marcos Jr. in the 2022 presidential election.

It is considered “a force to reckon with” during the national elections and could tilt the results in areas with neck-and-neck rivalries.

Mr. Marcos Jr. had also visited some regions in Mindanao with large Hiligaynon-speaking populations to give cash assistance during calamities and the like, belying accusations from critics that he is a “tamad” (lazy person) leader who grew up without being given any responsibility by his parents who lived infamous lives during the dark years of Martial Law.


On June 27, at least 61,171 beneficiaries in Western Visayas reportedly availed the PAFF program, according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCC).

PCC reportedly identified a total of 30,632 beneficiaries from Iloilo, 8,315 from Negros Occidental, 8,293 from Capiz, 7,067 from Antique, 5,023 from Aklan, and 1,841 from Guimaras represented by their respective governors, many of whom newly recruited administration party members, who personally received the cash assistance.

PAFF beneficiaries went home with P10,000 each “to help cushion the effect of the dry spell on their livelihood,” it was reported.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) also reportedly distributed farm inputs to identified beneficiaries aside from financial assistance.

El Niño, which lasted for several months early this year, caused around P2.9 billion in losses across the region, heavily affecting rice and corn production, according to report from the DA regional office. The phenomenon reportedly impacted over 84,181 farmers and about 122,702 hectares of farmland.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) also claimed that the prolonged dry season brought P49 million worth of damage, it was reported.


OUR colleague in the Fil-Am Press Club of New York, Cesar YetBo LoveRita, reported for the Filipino Reporters June 26 that Dr. Alexander Baldonado, a Filipino Canadian and US permanent resident facing a $20.7 million medical fraud case, has been placed under house arrest by a US District Court in Newark, New Jersey.

Baldonado violated several court-imposed conditions, including failing to report to his pretrial officer and violating curfew, leading District Judge Susan Wigenton to modify his release to house detention after being initially released on $200,000 bail in May 2021. His trial is scheduled for February 3, 2025, reported LoveRita.

The charges against Baldonado, brought by the FBI, include conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the US, paying and receiving health care kickbacks, and soliciting health care kickbacks.

In addition to his legal troubles, Baldonado’s conduct towards journalists has sparked condemnation. The Filipino American Press Club of New York and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines criticized his harassment of GMA7 correspondent Dave Llavanes Jr., who reported on his case.

Following a bail hearing, Baldonado reportedly insulted ABS-CBN reporter Don Tagala, using derogatory language by calling him “gagang bakla”. However, Tagala maintained professionalism and did not react, according to LoveRita.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)


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