Former Cagayan governor Alvaro "Bong" Antonio said Saturday presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos "did not give a single cent" when he requested for typhoon aid in the past, as he endorsed Leni Robredo for president.
Speaking at a Robredo-Pangilinan rally in Alcala, Cagayan, Antonio shared how as governor for nine years, he asked Marcos to help the province while the presidential candidate was a senator. Cagayan is part of the so-called "Solid North", believed to be the Marcos family's bailiwick.
“In 2011 or 2012, there was a strong typhoon that destroyed Cagayan. As a governor, I asked help from the senator we have helped who I was hoping would help our province during those difficult times. " Antonio said in his native language Ilocano.
“You know what happened? I am only telling the truth. He did not even face me. He only asked that I leave the resolution. I went twice to seek assistance for the province as a governor, he did not give a single cent."
He also encouraged fellow Ilocanos to vote for the candidate who helped the people of Cagayan, even if they're not Ilocano.
"Many of you know that I am not supposed to be meddling in politics because I have already retired, but because of what I see, I feel that happens in this country, which includes my town of Alcala and my provice of Cagayan, I decided that it is necessary for me to show again, to give a speech to my fellows in Alcala and Cagayan so that they can choose a genuine, resilient, loving leader of the Philippines in the next six years."
Antonio also said that he, along with other family members and friends, were imprisoned during the martial rule of Bongbong's father, late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
"In the town of Alcala, many of us were imprisoned, many of my friends, family died. I experienced the evil of Martial Law so if they are saying that Martial Law was good, por Dios por santo, don’t believe them."
His daughter, Alcala Mayor Tin Antonio, shared how Robredo was the first to reach Cagayan when Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) flooded the province during the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020.
"Noong Typhoon Ulysses, lumubog ang bayan ng Alcala. Twenty four out of 25 barangays ang lumubog sa 15 metro-kataas na baha. Hindi natin alam kung saan tutungo. Hindi natin alam kung kanino, saan magpapasaklolo. Mag-isa tayo noon, nagso-solo tayo noon, para tayong balyan (scarecrow)! In the middle of the night, tumawag. Nagpadala ng tulong. Hindi ba’t ‘yan ay pagmamahal? Hindi ba’t ipinadama niya sa atin ang ganyang pagmamahal? ‘Yan ba ang estranghero? ‘Yan ba ang dayuhan?" she said of Robredo.
Robredo thanked the Antonios and her supporters in Cagayan for their support as she said how she initially feared venturing into the Solid North.
Despite losing the 2016 vice presidential race in Cagayan to Marcos Jr., Robredo said politics should be set aside when Filipinos are in need of help.
"Alam ko mahirap para sa inyo lahat kumampanya para sa ibang presidential candidate dito sa inyo. Pero bilib din ako sa inyo, naglalakas kayo ng loob. At para po sa akin, malaking development 'yun, 'di ba?"