“I’m proud to be a Marcos,” Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. repeatedly exclaims the line in interviews, even when the ghost of his father’s past—former President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law rule—continues to creep in public consciousness.
Still, amid the issues hounding his run for vice-presidency, Bongbong continues to reign in the polls. Is he the next vice president of the Philippines?
Bongbong’s running mate, Senator Miriam Santiago has been quoted to have three criteria in examining a great public servant: academic, professional, and moral excellence. Judging by Bongbong’s educational background, he passes the first part in flying colors.
He finished his undergraduate studies in Oxford University, and acquired business units from Wharton School of Business (formerly claiming to have finished his masters in the said institution), two of the most prestigious schools in the world.
Immediately after, he was elected as vice governor of Ilocos Norte in 1981 and served as governor of the province from 1982 to 1986.
But the demise of his father’s 20-year reign in Malacañang during the People Power Revolution forced the young Bongbong to a private life in Hawaii in exile.
Still, it did not take long before the Marcoses were back in office. In 1992, Bongbong was back in the Philippines and was elected as locos Norte representative, and since then, the northern Luzon province became his own dynasty.
The next 20 years saw Bongbong as either the province’s governor or representative, until he ran for Senate in 2013.
He managed to pass 400 bills with his time in government, 37 of which were enacted into law. This includes Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act; Student-Athletes Protection Act of 2015; the Cybercrime Prevention Act; the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act; the National Health Insurance Act; and Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015.
Paying for his father’s mistakes?
Yet even with his extensive experience, the issue that cripples his candidacy the most is not even his own doing, but his father’s.
In February, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) reported to have acquired P170 billion or $3.62 billion worth of ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses and his cronies from 1986 to 2015. Some say it could still reach to $10 billion.
This very issue is where Bongbong was lambasted the most in the first vice presidential debate on April 10. Fellow vice-presidential aspirant Senator Alan Peter Cayetano repeatedly asked the young Marcos, where is the “stolen money?”
To which, Bongbong only answered, “I cannot give what I do not have.”
When the senators released their statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) for 2013, Marcos emerged as the richest among the lot, with a declared net worth of nearly P437 million ($9.31 million). The amount still does not include his supposed inherited riches from his father, as most properties are still being ruled in court if it belongs to government or the Marcoses.
Still, the young Marcos insists he has a clean track record.
“My record is clear and I can say that this is what I followed: to be a true public servant who has prioritized the country’s needs before my own,” Marcos said in Filipino during his opening speech at the first vice presidential debate.
But one thing that the young Marcos seem to cannot do is to apologize for the wrongdoings of his father.
“I cannot apologize for the things I didn’t do,” Marcos has repeatedly said in several interviews, and even told reporters at the sidelines of his vice-presidential announcement that the extra-judicial killings during the Martial Law “are not what people are talking about. We’re talking about our current situation and what Filipinos are looking for in leaders today.”
In his announcement rally for vice-presidency, Bongbong campaigned for “a new revolution” as 1986 People Power Revolution was “pure politics.”
“This is a revolution to make our country free…. With your help, I will lead a revolution in heart, mind, and action toward a true and meaningful change,” Bongbong said.
Entrepreneur Philippines profiles the leading presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates in the upcoming May 9, 2016 elections. We aim to help voters know these candidates through their platforms focusing on the economy, entrepreneurship, tax reform.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/writer. Follow her on Twitter@elyssalopz.