PHILIPPINES

Big shoes to fill: Philippine dictator Marcos’ son ‘Bongbong’ considers presidential run

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 7:33pm

The son and namesake of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos said on Wednesday he may run for president in next year’s elections, offering his once-exiled family the chance of the ultimate political comeback.

Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, popularly known as “Bongbong”, said he would not seek a second term as senator and was aiming for “higher office”, which in the Philippines can only be president or vice president.

“The discussions I have been having with different groups, with other individuals have really centred on higher office,” the 57-year-old said on ABS-CBN television.

Asked directly if he would run for president or vice president, Marcos said: “It’s extremely difficult to make a decision at this point.”

Ferdinand Marcos Snr ruled the Philippines for two decades until 1986 when millions of people took to the streets in a famous “people power” revolution.

The Marcos family fled to the United States, and the patriarch died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.

The rest of the family, headed by controversial matriarch Imelda, returned in 1991 and began a successful political comeback despite accusations the presidential couple stole billions in state coffers and oversaw widespread human rights abuses.

“Bongbong” Marcos won a Senate position in 2010, the first time since his father’s demise that a family member had won a nationally elected post.

The Marcos matriarch, famous for her luxurious lifestyle, has also since 2010 been a member of parliament, representing her husband’s northern stronghold of Ilocos Norte province.

Imelda, now aged 86, has spoken often of her desire for her son to take the presidency back for the family.

However, public opinion surveys currently show there is little support for Marcos Jnr as president.

“I always see surveys as a starting point,” he said about his poor poll ratings.

The current Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, is the only son and namesake of the late strongman’s political nemesis, whose assassination in 1983 led to the popular uprising three years later.

The assassinated hero’s wife, Corazon Aquino, led the revolution and was the nation’s first president after Marcos’s fall.

Highlighting the fickle nature of Philippine politics, Marcos said he could run for the vice presidency next year on a ticket with current presidential favourite Jejomar Binay.

Binay was a human rights campaigner during the dictatorship and is now the vice president, but he has faced widespread accusations of corruption in recent years.

“This is Philippine politics, you cannot discount the possibility of things you did not imagine would happen, could happen. Never say never,” he said when asked about a Binay union.

Last month, Aquino anointed his unpopular interior minister, Manuel Roxas, as his preferred successor.