End Marcos family's resurgence, Aquino urges

Philippine President Benigno Aquino (second from right) and former president Fidel Ramos (second from left) led the celebration at the People Power monument in Quezon city yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marco
Philippine President Benigno Aquino (second from right) and former president Fidel Ramos (second from left) led the celebration at the People Power monument in Quezon city yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Philippine leader reminds voters of abuses under late dictator whose son seeks V-P role

MANILA • Philippine President Benigno Aquino yesterday urged voters to stamp out the political resurgence of Ferdinand Marcos' family, as the nation marked 30 years since a "People Power" uprising toppled the late dictator.

The election campaign is the latest chapter in an almost Shakespearean tale of feuding between the Aquino and Marcos families, two of the most powerful clans in a nation famed for elite dynasty rule.

Human rights groups say tens of thousands of people were jailed and tortured during Marcos' 20-year rule, and the government estimates the family plundered US$10 billion (S$14 billion) from state coffers.

But pollsters say a young electorate is likely to help the late dictator's charismatic and unrepentant son Ferdinand Jr become vice-president in elections in May.

"Mr Marcos' rule was not the golden age. It was a very painful chapter of our history," Mr Aquino said at an event marking the 1986 uprising.

Mr Aquino's late father and namesake was shot dead by pro-Marcos soldiers and police at Manila airport in 1983 on his return from exile in the US to lead the opposition against the dictator. Public outrage over the murder ignited the revolution, which was led by the assassinated democracy hero's wife, Mrs Corazon Aquino.

It forced the Marcos family into exile as the soft-spoken and still revered Mrs Corazon Aquino came to power. The Marcos patriarch died in Hawaii three years later.

But the family was allowed to return in the early 1990s and its controversial matriarch, Imelda, set in train a remarkable political comeback for the family, with her son winning a seat in the Senate in 2010, and gaining a platform for a tilt at the country's second-most powerful position.

"Martial law really happened. There was a dictator who, with his family and cronies, monopolised power in exchange for the very lives and freedom of Filipinos," Mr Aquino said. "If he (Marcos' son) does not even realise what wrongs were committed by his family, what is our assurance that he will not repeat them?"

The younger Mr Marcos has repeatedly said his family has nothing to apologise for, portraying his father's rule as a time of economic prosperity.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'End Marcos family's resurgence, Aquino urges'. Print Edition | Subscribe