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The Bangui Windfarm Is Not The Project of Bongbong Marcos

A silent observer looking around. At times he must protect his identity with avatars and weird sounding names.

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Years ago, Ferdinand Marcos became the president of the Philippines. And shortly after winning his second term, he placed the whole country under martial law (September 23, 1972) which according to him, a response to the communist threats and sectarian rebellions. Critics pointed out that his tenure as a president during the martial law years was marred with human rights abuses, failed economy and corruptions, and these allegations were not without basis. Eventually, after ruling the Philippines as a virtual dictator, he was ousted in a peaceful revolt.

Fast forward in 2022, years after his death, his son Ferdinand Marcos Jr, also known as Bongbong is vying for presidency. Despite of claims of sincerity, critics feared of the possible return to power of the former dictator’s family. Bongbong Marcos’ style of campaign isn’t helping either to win the hearts of critics. He developed a tendency to skip interviews, dodge sensitive questions, and avoid certain journalists he accused of being biased. There are even claims that he is urging the people to move on from the abuses of martial law, something that was never taken lightly, especially for human rights victims. Is he whitewashing the crimes of his father? To further worsen the situation, there are allegations that Bongbong is using paid trolls to spread propaganda, slander, and intimidation. Again, an allegation that is not without basis, as faceless social media accounts could be found in comment sections promoting his name. And these anonymous social media users are notorious for spreading fake news, to make Bongbong look good. And one of these is a so-called project he initiated. Loyalist promoted such news to give Bongbong an image of an innovating leader. But fact checks revealed that it wasn’t the case


The Claim

A portion of Marcos' TV Ad.

A portion of Marcos' TV Ad.

Whenever we see the younger Marcos’ campaign ad on television and in various social media sites, we see him among an array of wind turbines in the background. A wind turbine then transforms into this handheld paper version of itself (in Marcos’ hand) as he passes it to different people, sort of to symbolize that the wind farm is for everyone. To anyone wondering, Marcos is actually showing-off the Bangui Wind Farm located somewhere in Ilocos Norte. Below, we will know more about the said wind farm, but he often claims that such project belongs to him.

And he’s been doing that since his attempt at vice presidency.

Years ago, Marcos flaunted his so-called Bangui Wind Farm when he was running for vice-presidency. His page back then was showing off the wind farm, with a claim that it is the first power generating wind farm in Southeast Asia, hence electricity there is cheaper compare to Manila. Unfortunately, Marcos lost the vice presidency race, but the post about his project resurfaces, now that he is running for the higher office. And during one his interviews (hosted by DZRH and Manila Times last January 25), he also brought up and boasted the project, much to his loyalists' delights.

We could say that the wind farm is his claim to fame, where his campaign revolves. In fact, it became the symbol of his presidential campaign, though one might ask if the Bangui Wind Farm is truly his project. Critics pointed out that any claims made by Marcos should be put under scrutiny, as he and his family have a history of lying. Marcos lied about his credentials in Oxford, while his father made-up stories of his exploits during the Second World War. And people can’t still forget the stupid Tallano Gold.

Hence, we scoured the dark reaches of the internet for answers, and as it turns out, fact checking sites already tackled the issue. But first, let’s check its history.

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The Bangui Wind Farm

The impressive wind turbine arrays.

The impressive wind turbine arrays.

When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) made a study in 1996, it was determined that there are places in the Philippines that could offer an ideal location for wind power installation. Bangui is one of them. The NorthWind Power Development Corporation then developed the wind farm project, based on this study, while the wind generators came from a Danish firm Vestas Wind System. In June 15, 2008 was the inauguration of Phase I of the project in Bangui. The project was supported by World Bank, and an interest-free loan of $30 million dollars was provided by the Danish International Development Agency. Reports indicated that the wind farm could generate a total of 33 megawatts of power, and it supplies 40% pf Ilocos Norte’s electricity.

Each wind turbines towers at 70 m tall, and with blades of 41 m long. In 2017, the AC Energy, owned by Ayala Group took control of the Bangui Wind Farm.

Now, if one will review the history of the wind farm, one will realize that Marcos was never involved in the said project. In short, the project belongs to someone else.

In reality

Another view of the wind farm.

Another view of the wind farm.

The Bangui Wind Farm was inaugurated during the term of Marcos as Ilocos Norte’s governor. But it was never his brainchild, while NorthWind Power Development Corporation (NPDC) was the one who owns the wind farm. And going back to its history, it was also the NPDC who developed the project, based on the study by NREL. Overall, the whole wind farm project is owned by the said private enterprise, while funding never came from the government, but from the World Bank with loans coming from Danish International Development Agency.

So far, the only involvement Marcos did was its inauguration. The Bangui Wind Farm is a private enterprise and built on funds from a non-government source. If that’s the case, then why Marcos is claiming the project as his’?

Propaganda and Lies

Again, another election is coming, and Marcos and his loyalists need materials to look good. Critics pointed out that the Marcos family has a history of doing propaganda, sugarcoating, whitewashing and fake news. And they are good at it. The fact that the Marcos family went back to power, with still a large following despite of the abuses of martial law is the statement of their propaganda skills. And in the age of social media, they have a new platform of campaign, which as critics pointed out, infested with fake news.

And claiming that Marcos owned such an impressive project like the Bangui Wind Farm could boost his credentials, no matter how unrealistic it could be. It’s all about image after all. And despite of the evidence that debunk the Bangui Wind Farm claim, it could take more than fact checking to cure the effects of propaganda.

References:

1. FACT CHECK | Bangui Windmills in Ilocos Norte not a project of Marcos Jr. (02 February 2022). Retrieved from News 5 | Always On (tv5.com.ph)

2. Gacura, TJ (n.d.). "Jaime Fábregas contradicts Marcos loyalists claiming Bangui Bay Wind Farm, the project of Bongbong Marcos". lionheartv.

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