Supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo had much to complain about with the recent wave of polls showing Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as having the edge in Western Visayas. On one hand, the leaked Laylo survey showed Marcos leading Robredo at 36% to 27%. On the other hand, the MBC-DZRH survey showed Marcos in a dead heat with Robredo at 33.3% to 32.4%.
Aside from the usual complaints about the surveys being rigged, Robredo supporters argued that Iloilo is supposedly an opposition “bailiwick”: Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas has already endorsed the Vice President, and her multiple visits there have always yielded large crowds. Robredo supporters also argue that Ilonggos purportedly have an ax to grind against the administration after President Duterte referred repeatedly to the Queen City of the South as a “Narco-State” in his numerous public addresses.
But these arguments are hinged on a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept. In technical terms, a bailiwick- locally known as balwarte– usually refers to a geographic area- usually a province or region- wherein a candidate has an advantage due to their shared ethno-linguistic roots with the residents. For example, the Vice President hails from Naga City, Camarines Sur, and she therefore has the advantage in the Bicol Region. In the MBC-DZRH survey, Robredo scored 57.6% to Marcos’ 23.8%. Her lead was even larger in the Laylo survey, 77% to Marcos’ 17%.
Western Visayas was previously a Mar Roxas bailiwick, as his family has roots in the eponymous Roxas City in Capiz. Consequently, Western Visayas was one of the regions that Mar won in 2016. But there are no Ilonggo candidates in 2022, and therefore no one can claim Panay and Negros Occidental as their bailiwick. The recent surveys bear this out: Marcos’s juggernaut of a lead on the national level has not yet manifested in Region 6. His slight lead can still be maintained, expanded, or even overcome, depending on how the other candidates move forward.
Words By: Luc Dioneda
Edited By: Christina Salazar