PANIQUI, TARLAC– In politics, there are no permanent friends but only enemies, so they say. By extension, the turf of your enemy, is also an unfriendly world that you must tread carefully.

But that is not always the case when vice-presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos,Jr. came to this town for his campaign sorties, in the so-called Aquino Country. The young Marcos was warmly received by throngs of Tarlaqueños.

First in his sortie was the sleepy town of San Manuel, predominantly inhabited by Ilokanos. He attended the traditional flag raising ceremony at the Municipal Hall together with the municipal employees. When Mayor Benjamin Tesoro introduced him to the people, he proudly told them that “Bongbong” was his classmate at the Army Scout Training somewhere in Luzon.

For his part, Sen. Marcos told his listeners that he was mounting a different kind of campaign, stressing that he was not only asking people to vote for him but was also advocating to make the nation whole again.

“Ang ugat ng lahat ng kahirapan dinaranas nang ating Bansa ngayon ay dahil sa pulitka. Ang mga nakalipas na leader ng ating bansa ay pinaghiwa-hiwalay tayo, pinagkawatak-watak tayo,” the son of the late strongman said.

He said that his dream was to see again the Filipinos as one people; that people of other nations will see that Filipinos care for their own.

At the municipal hall office of Tesoro, village officials gathered around “Bongbong” as he explained to them the possibility of extending the term of the Barangay officials from 3 years to 5 years. He was applauded when he told them that as Chair of the Committee of Local Government in the Senate, it was only a matter of time for him and his peers to approve the House Bill that would give cash incentives to the barangay officials who served their full term.

Marcos was warmly welcomed in Moncada town. He first arrived at the town’s public market where Lita Aquino, wife of the Moncada mayor, received him and accompanied him inside the market where people swarmed on him. When he arrived at the Moncada Municipal Hall. he was received by Benito Aquino, uncle of President Benigno Simeon Aquino lll.

The Aquino kin vowed that “Bongbong” will win in his town. He said he doesn’t care less if “Bongbong” is a Marcos. “We are a different Aquino,” he said as a matter of cold fact.

Marcos together with his party arrived in the town of Paniqui. a known Cojuangco bailiwick, riding in his open truck and people shouting at the top of their collective voices, “Marcos, Marcos, Marcos,” as his motorcade passed by.

He was received by Mayor Miguel “Dors” Cojuangco Rivilla, a cousin of President Aquino, who accompanied him to the Paniqui Public Market. When vendors and buyers saw the young Marcos in their midst, the whole market stood still as people took turns to have a “selfie” with him.

“Bongbong” enthusiastically told the people of Paniqui that Dors “has become” the youngest member of the Marcos Family, “surprised” , he said, to find that he was already a mayor. He was lustily cheered.

Rivilla told the crowd, “Hindi naman magtatampo si Presidente. Hindi naman niya pipigilan ang mga tao na magdesisyon kung sino ang nais nilang mamuno sa bansa.”

In the town of Camiling, Mayor Neil Agustin, a known Nationalist People’s Coalition stalwart in the province, openly campaigned for the young Marcos, saying he was a Marcos loyalist. Local official who did not want to be identified said that if Marcos garnered convincing votes in Tarlac, it would a slap in the face of the Aquinos. It can be remembered that the Aquinos still suspect that Ferdinand Marcos having a hand in the 1983 murder of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. Homer Teodoro/northboundasia.com