Son of Philippine dictator Marcos opens door to presidential bid

Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, said he's already organising people on the ground who can help him mount a national campaign. PHOTO: FERDINAND BONGBONG MARCOS JR/FACEBOOK

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos said he is eyeing a national post in the 2022 elections, opening the door for a presidential bid that could complicate President Rodrigo Duterte's political plans.

Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, who took a break from politics after losing the 2016 vice-presidential race, said he is already organising people on the ground who can help him mount a national campaign.

Mr Marcos, 63, has been named as a possible administration candidate for the top post next year, along with the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Ms Sara has also named Mr Marcos as a potential running mate in 2022.

"We are in constant discussions with all other parties as to how to position ourselves for 2022," Mr Marcos said at a virtual forum on Wednesday (Sept 8), when asked if he is in talks with Ms Sara's camp.

He added that his campaign will focus on pandemic recovery and food security.

A faction of the ruling party PDP-Laban is also scheduled to formalise President Duterte's vice-presidential bid later in the day, with his long-term aide, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, expected to be declared as presidential bet.

Another group within the party wants boxer and senator Manny Pacquiao to run for the top post.

Mr Duterte, limited to a single six-year term as president, could still drop his vice-presidential bid if his daughter runs for the top post, his spokesman said last month.

Ms Sara has said that she is willing to run as her father's successor, although her plans remain unclear.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who has been criticising Mr Duterte's anti-corruption campaign, on Wednesday became the first politician to launch his presidential aspiration, with Senate President Vicente Sotto, a former actor, musician and four-term lawmaker, as running mate.

Mr Lacson, 73, said in his speech during the launch that corruption and illegal drugs remain pervasive even as Mr Duterte nears the end of his term, while also criticising the administration for supposedly allowing Beijing to encroach on Philippine-claimed territory in the South China Sea.

"Between me and Senate president Sotto are more than 80 years of honest, dedicated and competent public service," Mr Lacson said, drawing cheers from a small crowd and from virtual attendees.

Mr Lacson, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004, is known for his tough stance on crime and for helping to draft a controversial anti-terror law, which activists have condemned and fear could be used to crush dissent in one of Asia's most liberal democracies.

Mr Lacson and Mr Sotto spoke of the enormous challenges they would face if elected to lead South-east Asia's second most populous country, which is fighting one of the region's deadliest coronavirus epidemics.

"The country is buried in debt, many have lost their jobs... corruption is prevalent and illegal drugs is still rampant," Mr Lacson said, in a swipe at President Duterte, who was elected on promises to eliminate corruption and drugs.

Mr Lacson will be an outside bet and has been ranked low in independent opinion polls of preferred presidential candidates for 2022, which have consistently shown Mr Duterte's daughter as the winning candidate.

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