Marcoses solidify political comeback

Mrs Imelda Marcos, 89, former Philippine dictator Ferdinard Marcos' widow, pointing to her daughter Imee after the younger Marcos filed her certificate of candidacy yesterday to run in the Senate elections next year. The Marcos family has capitalised
Mrs Imelda Marcos, 89, former Philippine dictator Ferdinard Marcos' widow, pointing to her daughter Imee after the younger Marcos filed her certificate of candidacy yesterday to run in the Senate elections next year. The Marcos family has capitalised on voters' unhappiness over how the country has been run to make a political comeback.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Late dictator's widow seeks to replace daughter as governor of province as latter eyes Senate seat

The eldest daughter of the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos yesterday began her bid to secure a Senate seat to solidify her family's political comeback since the Marcoses fled in disgrace following a popular revolt more than 30 years ago.

"Our country is ready to hear other thoughts and our side of the story… I believe there has been a shift in how the past is interpreted," Ms Imee Marcos, 62, told reporters after filing her certificate of candidacy to run in next year's Senate elections. "I think the new generation, particularly the millennial generation, is ready to hear our side of the story," she added.

The mother of three sons is in her final term as governor of Ilocos Norte province in northern Philippines after being first elected as governor in 2010.

Supporters of human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, who is also running for senator, yesterday jeered at Ms Marcos as she made her way to the office of the election commission, shouting: "Marcos, Hitler, dictator, lapdog!"

But polls show that Ms Marcos will likely win the Senate race.

Her likely win underlines how the Marcos family has enjoyed a revival after it fled the Philippines in 1986 in the face of a "people power" uprising. This was triggered by public anger over abuses under Mr Marcos, especially the assassination of his political rival, former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

Thousands of people were killed and tortured during the Marcos era and the Marcos family has been accused of stealing about US$10 billion in government treasures to enrich itself.

Mr Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, but his wife Imelda and children were subsequently allowed to return home.

With a new generation of voters born after the 1986 uprising gaining influence at the polls, the family has seen an upturn in its fortunes.

MILLENNIAL EARS

I think the new generation, particularly the millennial generation, is ready to hear our side of the story.

MS IMEE MARCOS, daughter of the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Mrs Marcos, 89, is a congresswoman and is now running for governor of Ilocos Norte province, hoping to replace her daughter Imee in the family's bailiwick in northern Philippines. Her running mate will be her grandson, Mr Matthew Marcos Manotoc, 28, a member of the Ilocos Norte provincial government.

One reason for the revival of the Marcos family is that it has capitalised on voters unhappy with how the Philippines has been run.

Much of the anger fuelling the Marcoses' rise has been directed at Mr Aquino's family. Soon after the 1986 revolt, Mr Aquino's widow, Corazon, became the president and guided the country out of deep divisions as it adjusted to democracy. Their son, Mr Benigno Aquino III, later became president, holding office from 2010 to 2016.

 
 
 

While the Philippines has enjoyed some measure of prosperity in the last 30 years or so, many voters, especially the younger ones, feel that growth has benefited only the elite.

They blame the Aquinos and their backers, though the Philippines has seen a succession of presidents from rival political parties, including former actor Joseph Estrada.

The Marcoses have also benefited from the rise of President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-professed fan of Mr Marcos. For instance, Ms Marcos has forged a close alliance with Mr Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

But ill feelings towards the Marcoses still run deep among many Filipinos.

Ms Marcos recently drew angry rebukes after she advised Filipinos to move on and forget about the past.

"The millennials have moved on, and I think people of my age should also move on as well," Ms Marcos was quoted as saying by local media.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Marcoses solidify political comeback'. Print Edition | Subscribe