The Claim: Duterte was referring to BBM when he said choose the Ilocano leader you want to put in the ballot
Rating: PARTIALLY FALSE
The Facts: President Duterte made a rare visit to the Ilocos last March 4 to open the Narvacan Farmers Market. It was here that he made the now famous remark: “Kaya ibigay ko na lang ito isang buwan aalis na ako sa Malacañan, mamili na kayo kung sinong Ilocano na lider ilagay ninyo doon (In a month, I will leave Malacañan, you choose which Ilocano leader you will put there).”
That remark was seen by supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as a “basbas” (mark of blessing) by Duterte to their candidate. They say that Marcos is the only Ilocano among the presidentiables.
As it turns out, there is another Ilocano among the presidentiables and he is much closer to President Duterte than BBM.
Ernesto Corpus Abella, 72, was the first spokesman of Duterte (2016-2017) and later became the Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research in the Department of Foreign Affairs. Prior to that, he was a advertising executive, businessman, columnist and evangelical preacher in Davao City.
In his fan page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/455682672560652/posts/524859868976265/), Abella is referred to as an “Ilocano and Davaoeno.” Since he was born and raised in Davao City, it is assumed his parents or one of them were Ilocanos who migrated there.