Bongbong: In his father’s footsteps

By Perry Diaz

Bongbong-Marcos.7Ever since Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. was elected to the Senate in 2010, a lot of people have been wondering if he’d pursue a higher office when his term ends in 2016. Being the only male offspring of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, a dictator who ruled the Philippines for two decades, Bongbong is presumed to have an eye on the presidency for a variety of reasons. Foremost would be to follow in his father’s footsteps and regain the “glorious” years of the Marcos era.

On February 25, 1986, Marcos talked to U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt to seek advice form the White House. Laxalt, after consultation with the White House, advised him to “cut and cut cleanly.” Felt abandoned by the White House, the Marcoses fled Malacanang. They were picked up by a U.S. helicopter and transported to Clark Air Force Base where they boarded a C-130 plane bound for Hawaii. They lived in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii until Marcos’ death on September 28, 1989. A few years later, the surviving members of the Marcos family went back to the Philippines.

Political comeback

Imelda campaigning for a congressional seat.

Imelda campaigning for a congressional seat.

In 1992, Imelda ran for president but lost. In 1995, she ran for Congress and won as representative of Leyte, her province. It signaled the Marcoses’ political comeback.

Today, Imelda Marcos is a member of Congress representing her husband’s old congressional district in Ilocos Norte. Their daughter Imee Marcos is now the Governor of Ilocos Norte and Bongbong is a Senator.

It’s always been Imelda’s dream to see her only son become president of the Philippines. She made it known when Bongbong was elected to the Senate in 2010. Due for re-election in 2016, Bongbong has to decide whether to run for re-election to the Senate or for a higher office, which would either be President or Vice President.

He was inspired by a strong pro-Marcos sentiment, particularly among the young people who are now saying, “Marcos kami.” Although he has a strong following in the social media, he is lagging behind in the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia polls.

Buoyed by his social media supporters urging him to run for president, he tackled the number one issue against him if he ran for president; that is, questions about his father’s brutal dictatorship.

No apology

Bongbong-Marcos-and-fatherDuring an interview with ANC’s Headstart last August 26, Bongbong responded to questions on whether he would apologize for the “corruption and human rights abuses” during his father’s presidency if he decides to run for president or vice president? His response was terse: “What am I to say sorry about?” Then he added, “Will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers [of roads] that were built? Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice? Will I say sorry for the power generation? Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia? What am I to say sorry about?”

Bongbong had been defending his father’s record since he was elected to the Senate. He said “recent political history” looked favorably on his father’s legacy. “Being a Marcos is not a political liability but is even an advantage.” He added that there was a “constant refrain” that goes: “It was better during Marcos’ time, life was more comfortable; the government helped us. There were many programs and projects. Since he was replaced, we no longer experienced that. We hope that comes back.” [Translated from Tagalog]

However, with all the hoopla about Bongbong’s defense of his father, he emphasized that he’s still thinking whether to run for president or vice president. He’s still exploring possible tandem with either Binay or Duterte. But he pointed out that whatever he decides, he’s not leaving the Nacionalista Party (NP), which raises the question: If the NP endorsed Poe as its standard bearer, is Bongbong willing to be Grace’s vice presidential running mate?

Ilocano Vote

Marcos-pa-rinRegardless whether Bongbong runs for either office, he is counting on the “Ilocano Vote,” which he differentiated from the “Solid North” that supported his father’s political ambitions. While the “Solid North” is a geographical designation of Northern Luzon, which has a large number of Ilocanos, the “Ilocano Vote” is everywhere, from the Ilocano stronghold of Northern Luzon to Southern Mindanao including Palawan where one of the major languages spoken is Ilocano. And don’t discount the Filipino diaspora that is dominated by Ilocanos, particularly in Hawaii and the agricultural farmlands of California.

With the clannishness of Ilocanos, it is not unusual to hear Ilocanos proclaim their loyalty to Marcos Sr. with the words, “Marcos pa rin kami” (We’re always be for Marcos). The question is: Would Bongbong be able to get the support his father got from Ilocanos?

One of the strengths of Marcos Sr. was his oratorical prowess in the use of the Ilocano language. Would Bongbong be able to communicate with Ilocanos in their native language? If there was one element that unifies the Ilocanos, it is because they spoke only one Ilocano language regardless of where they are. Marcos Sr. mastered his eloquence of the Ilocano language. Can Marcos Jr. do the same?

Popularity ratings

Bongbong-Marcos-pa-rinIf Bongbong is going to run for president or vice president, he should make an aggressive effort to improve his popularity ratings. In the June 2015 Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys, Bongbong got 3% (ranked ninth) in the presidential survey and 1% (ranked 13th) in the vice presidential survey. In the June 2015 Pulse Asia survey, Bongbong got 9% (ranked fifth) in the “preferred vice president” category and none in the “preferred president” category.

The polls were taken 11 months prior to the May 2016 elections, which gives Bongbong enough time to catch up; however, he has to work aggressively to improve his rank in the polls.

Given the controversy that he created when he defended his father’s martial law regime, Bongbong is probably betting that a large number of post-martial law babies are now of voting age. With no experience of the harsh years of martial law, Bongbong could easily sway these young voters by crystallizing the positive achievements of his father, and burying the negatives in an avalanche of positive things. But there are still a large number of those who saw the brutalities of the martial law era and would most likely vote against Bongbong.

Bongbong likened his father to the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, saying that his father could have done a lot more if he remained longer in power. Does it seem like Bongbong is going to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue his “unfinished” work?

Surmise it to say, if Bongbong wins, it would be a vindication of his father. If he loses, then it will give the people a glimpse of how history will treat Ferdinand E. Marcos. It has been said, “Time heals all wounds.” But the wounds are deep and it might be too soon for healing… if it ever will.


19 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Fernando Habito says:

    Thanks Perry for sharing this exposition in regards Bongbong Marcos plan to extend his late father legacy of KLEPTOCRACY.ALL I CAN SAY IS BIG NO to Bongbong ang Marcos Family Dynasty…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

  2. Estelita Duque Antonio says:

    All my government service in the Philippines I have the late President Ferdinand Marcos as my President. I was one of the official indexers of the president as one of the librarians at the National Library of the Philippines. I love my job until I retired in 1994 & moved to Canada. Until now I may say that the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was the strongest, & most talented compared to others.

    • Don Azarias says:

      And I own the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and plan to subdivide it and sell it for one penny per square meter to the American public. I also own the Eiffel Tower and plan to scrap and forge it and sell the steel to the Philippine government so it can build the world’s largest aircraft carrier.

  3. philip says:

    I like the tandem of Binay-Marcos to take ship. This will test if Filipinos don’t mind corruption and are really beyond salvation.

  4. Zeny Ferry says:

    Even though I did not experience Marcos dictatorship and martial era, I have read enough articles about the stolen wealth from the Filipino people. He may be the smartest president, but he was and will always be known as the most corrupt. If people still say “Marcos pa rin kami”, then the Philippines would remain a poor country for many more years to come.

  5. Al Bayani says:

    Matapos ang matagal na pangaabuso na ginawa nila sa bayan. Pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan at pagmamalupit at pagpatay sa mga kaanib ng oposisyon, kung umasta ang mga Marcoses ay akala mo’y mga walang ginawang kasalanan sa bayan. Sadyang makapal talaga ang pagmumukha ng mga Marcoses.

  6. Jun Mateo says:

    Should Bongbong be punished by the sins committed by his father?

  7. Manu Umali says:

    Ferdinand Marcos Lawsuit: Abuse Victims Left Out Will Be Paid Soon
    By Albert Samaha Mon., Sep. 23 2013 at 7:00 AM
    Write Comment
    Categories: Lawsuits

    Ferdinand Marcos’s estate owes a lot of money to a lot of human rights victims.
    In July 1974, two Philippines law enforcement officials arrested Emmanuel Umali. The men told Umali that he had committed “subversive acts” against the government.
    President Ferdinand Marcos had declared martial law in the country in 1972, and was cracking down on suspected dissidents. In his college days, at the University of the Philippines a few years before, Umali had demonstrated against the government alongside radical groups. But he had not been that politically active since. He figured the officials had mistaken him for somebody else.
    They tortured him–beat him with fists, pistol-whipped him, electrocuted his genitals. He confessed to the charges, he says, to make them stop. The officials locked Umali in a detention camp for the next two years. They released him only after he convinced them that he had been rehabilitated.
    More than a decade later, after Marcos had left the country in exile, Umali joined the class-action lawsuit demanding that the dictator’s estate pay restitution to the regime’s victims of human rights abuses.
    See Also:
    -The Fight for Ferdinand Marcos’s Cash
    -Monet Painting Is Latest Chapter in Fight for Marcos’s Cash
    Umali was one of the victims who testified in federal court in Hawaii, the state of Marcos’ post-exile residence. And in 1995, the judge ruled that Marcos’ estate must pay the victims $1.9 billion. In the years since, the 10,000 or so victims involved in the case have struggled to get even a fraction of that judgement.
    As we reported in a news short last month, the fight over the dictator’s money stash has centered in New York recently. In November, a former official of the Marcos regime wasarrested in Manhattan trying to sell a Monet painting that the dictator had purchased decades ago. On top of that, the Philippines government and the class of human rights victims have jostled for years over who should get the $35 million from Marcos’ old Merrill Lynch account. That fight continues.
    But for a handful of victims like Umali, the fight is already over. And they lost.
    Umali and around two dozen other victims may never touch any of that potential $10 million or $35 million. The reason is painfully simple: they had the wrong lawyer.
    In the wake of Marcos’ 1986 exile, multiple class action groups formed to sue him. Robert Swift, who had previously won judgement for Holocaust survivors, represented several thousand victims. Melvin Belli, the celebrity lawyer whose clientele included Jack Ruby, the Rolling Stones, and Muhammad Ali, represented 21 victims, including Umali. Another lawyer represented a few more victims.
    The cases consolidated in 1992. When the court ruled against Marcos, all the victims were winners. Umali and the 20 others in his class each won a $250,000 compensatory judgment.
    But then the fate of the victims diverged. There was no windfall following the judgement. Instead, there was a long road of legal battles before the plaintiffs could collect any money. Marcos’ estate was not about to hand over the cash willingly.
    Swift would go on to make claims on Marcos’ assets for his clients. In 2011, Swift’s clients got their first check, for $1,000. In July, an art collector who had purchased Marcos’ Monet painting agreed to give Swift’s class $10 million to avoid a legal dispute.
    Belli, however, died in 1996. The attorney who took over the case, Randy Scarlett, did not make any claims and soon stopped representing the 21 victims. In 2012, Scarlett sent them an email noting that “our representation ended years ago, following the Judgments obtained.”
    “We have not received anything,” Umali tells the Village Voice, “not even a single cent.”
    He recalls that his group of plaintiffs was the first class to file legal action against Marcos. He recently suffered a stroke, he adds, and any money would be a big help to pay down his medical costs.
    Umali’s set of victims has reached out to Swift, writing a letter to “request to be included in any future distribution/award to the class action.”
    But Swift explains that his hands are tied–that he can only look out for his clients, who have barely scratched the judgement themselves. He has told Umali’s group that it is too late for them to join his class.
    “There’s nothing I can do for them,” Swift says.
    Send story tips to the author, Albert Samaha
    • Emmanuel Umali
    o Ferdinand Marcos
    o Randy Scarlett

  8. Manu Umali says:

    If I were Bongbong, I would apologize for the sins of my father and mother, that way, he may win the vote of the youth as a modern-day hero.He may ally with Beanay, after all Beanay should go to jail for the plunder he has done. And he should go for passage of BBL, and drop MNLF in favor of the MILF advocacy. And he can forget China and side with the Philippines for a change. And admit that Grace is her half-sister- will gain an advantage over her in the polls. I had told Ka Nilo this a long time ago.

  9. Fernando Habito says:

    Enough IS ENOUGH WITH THIS ARROGANT AND SELFISH “Marcos Family Dynasty”..All they wanted is Mine..mine and more mines because of their insatiable greed for MONEY AND POWER.

  10. philip says:

    Forget the dictatorship element, who is more corrupt, Marcos or Binay? Your take, please.

    • perry says:

      Hi Philip,

      In my opinion, there is no such thing as “more corrupt.” Once corrupt, always corrupt. Give a corrupt politician the opportunity to steal and he’d steal all that he can steal. In this regard, Marcos and Binay have corruption in their blood. Marcos was given $10 billion to steal and he stole it. Give Binay $20 billion to steal and he’d steal it.


  11. The corruption of marcos is only a hearsay that the a quinos are trying their self better people than the marcos which done more than the one who assume power after him.

  12. Marcos is better than the rest that assume power after him.

  13. A quinos are the most corrupt.

  14. MarinoRFacelo,MD says:

    There is no benefit in unnecessarily repeating the memory of mistakes committed in the past by our leaders. Instead all Filipinos must work together to make the Philippines the best in the world for a change.Think and pray before casting votes for the best and brightest officials who will make this wondrous goal to happen .

  15. MarinoRFacelo,MD says:

    Thank you very much for approving my subscription to the Balita News and my first reply to your featured opinion,”Bongbong:In His Father’s Footsteps”.

    This approval encouraged me to repeat a reply I made last year before my subscription was cancelled. I greatly appreciate the reinstatement.

    There should be a plebiscite among Filipinos as to whether the Philippines should become a 52nd state of the union after Puerto Rico is confirmed as the 51st.This should make the Chinese withdraw from the Philippine islands annexed as the Russians have similarly occupied Crimea and the Ukraine.

    Since Donald Trump had been undoing the wrongs created by Barack Obama , in less than a year of his presidency , the plebiscite may be carried out quickly.When this occurs , voters will stop looking forward towards the attractiveness of the pork barrel. Thereby ,the best and the brightest of leaders may be elected in the Philippines.

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