Malacañang on Tuesday welcomed the announcement of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to join next year’s race for the vice presidency, saying having more candidates would be beneficial to voters.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the now five-way race among Senators Marcos, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Antonio Trillanes 4th and Alan Peter Cayetano and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo offers voters a wide range of choices.
“Senator Marcos joins a robust field of vice presidential hopefuls… Our people are provided with a wide latitude of choice and an opportunity to compare platforms for governance and track records,” Coloma added.
“We trust that the sovereign electorate will choose the most qualified and most competent among the aspirants,” he said.
The administration-backed Liberal Party (LP) is pushing for the candidacy of Robredo, who announced her vice presidential bid on Monday.
Later that day, Marcos also announced his decision to vie for the same post, claiming that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has promised to support his bid.
Duterte is yet to make a final decision on whether to run for President.
Marcos, son and namesake of the late former president, is completing his first Senate term in 2016.
He was congressional representative, governor and vice governor of his father’s home province of Ilocos Norte.
Human-rights victims also on Tuesday vowed to ensure that the crimes of the Marcos regime that violated their social and political freedom would not be forgotten, after his son announced a bid for the vice presidency.
“Bongbong Marcos’ vice-presidential candidacy is a clarion call not only for the countless victims of martial law, but for all freedom-loving Filipinos to wage the strongest struggle against the resurrection of the Marcos type of rapacious and fascist rule,” said Bonifacio Ilagan, vice chairman of Selda, an organization of former martial-law prisoners.
Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, head of FIND, a group representing families whose relatives vanished during Marcos’ rule, said her organization would also campaign against the return of a Marcos to power.
“Some people have shorter memories but the families have not forgotten. We may be in the minority… but we can continue to remind the people of the dark years of martial law,” she added.
Sevilla said 882 people were documented to have been taken by government forces after the then-president declared martial law in 1972.
She, however, said she believes that there were twice as many unreported disappearances.
Among those who are still not accounted for is her brother, Hermon Lagman, a labor lawyer who went missing in 1977.
The Marcos family has long been dogged by accusations that its patriarch oversaw massive huma- rights abuses and plundered billions of dollars from state coffers until a famous “people power” revolt toppled him from power in 1986.
But after the Marcos patriarch died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, the family returned to the country in 1991 and began a successful political comeback, culminating in Bongbong getting elected to the Senate in 2010.
The son has not been directly linked to any crimes of his father but he has been a vocal defender of the regime and martial law.
His political adviser, Orlando Balbido, said he believed Marcos should be judged on his own merits, not those of his father’s.
“Are the faults of the father passed down to the son?” Balbido asked.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Marcos was ultimately eyeing a run for the presidency at the next elections in 2022, counting on a new generation of voters being oblivious of his father’s crimes.
“The Marcos family actually thinks that in time, people will forget what really happened during martial law as the generation that experienced it are dying off slowly,” he added.
Casiple said Marcos has a good chance of winning the vice presidency, based on public opinion polls showing him in the top three of candidates.
The patriarch’s wife, Imelda, 86, also remains a political force, holding down a congressional seat in her husband’s northern stronghold since 2010.