News / Asia

    30 Years After Marcos’ Fall, His Son Aims for No. 2 Job

    Vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. talks to the media during his campaign sortie in Muntinlupa city, southeast of Manila, Philippines, Feb. 22, 2016.
    Vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. talks to the media during his campaign sortie in Muntinlupa city, southeast of Manila, Philippines, Feb. 22, 2016.
    Associated Press

    Three decades after a “people power” revolt ousted his dictator father, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was wooing voters on the campaign trail this week in his bid to become the Philippines' next vice president.

    He has a decent shot at fulfilling that ambition - polls show he is in second place among six rivals. If he wins, that would put him one step away from the presidency his father and namesake lost in the army-backed public uprising in February 1986 amid allegations of plunder and widespread human rights violations.

    Thirty years ago Thursday, Ferdinand Sr. and Imelda Marcos and their family fled the country after four days of massive street protests that saw rosary-clutching nuns and ordinary citizens kneeling before tanks and protesters sticking yellow flowers into the muzzles of assault rifles of pro-government troops.

    At a ceremony attended by President Benigno Aquino III, protest leaders and others re-enacted events from that historic revolt near a monument commemorating it.

    The younger Marcos made no mention of that uprising when he addressed listeners Monday in a poor village near Manila where supporters of his father live.

    Instead, he talked about how people have suffered under leaders since his father's departure, tapping into disillusionment over persistent poverty and corruption that plague the country, as well as an ongoing Islamic insurgency in the south. He did not utter the name of Aquino, a scion of a political clan whose longstanding rivalry with the Marcoses has shaped the country's political scene for decades.

    “Our leaders, instead of nurturing and helping us, sowed infighting and divided us into groups,” Marcos told the crowd of a few hundred villagers, many of whom chanted his nickname, Bongbong, and wore red, the color associated with his family.

    “I'm fighting to start a movement to unite the Filipino people,” he said on a sparse stage where he stood with a handful of local town officials, a far cry from the scenes of his family's heyday.

    Marcos, 58, appears to have a strong following among younger people who did not witness abuses during the 1972-81 period of martial law under his father or the popular revolt that overthrew him. When asked if he would eventually seek the presidency, he refuses to answer categorically.

    Filipino voters cast separate ballots for president and vice president, so often candidates from different parties are elected. The vote is May 9.

    “I am perplexed by the viability of Bongbong's candidacy for vice president,” said Gerard Finin of the East-West Center in Hawaii. “The longing for a stronger and more effective Philippine state has not faded.”

    Still, sidestepping the past is daunting in a country that still celebrates the Marcoses' downfall each year as a national reminder of how Filipinos once stood up to a dictatorship.

    In 1986, years before the era of Facebook, Twitter and cellphones, unarmed Filipinos rapidly massed along a highway in Manila by word of mouth and anti-government radio broadcasts to protect the defense minister, the military deputy chief of staff and their forces who defected from an ailing Marcos.

    The Marcoses lived in exile in Hawaii for several years and Ferdinand Sr. died there in 1989.

    Imelda Marcos returned to the Philippines in 1991. Her husband's remains were brought home later to his northern hometown of Batac, where his glass coffin has become a tourist attraction.

    Imelda, now 86, went to a popular Roman Catholic church in suburban Baclaran district of Manila in a wheelchair Wednesday to hear Mass with her aides, apparently unaware that a group of Marcos-era human rights victims were inside holding a program and recalling how they were tortured and abused by troops. Imelda Marcos, who appeared stoic, quietly left after the communion, according to witnesses.

    Despite her reputation for extravagance, best exemplified by the 1,220 pairs of shoes she left behind in the presidential palace after her husband's downfall, she and her children enjoy a degree of popularity, particularly in her late husband's northern political stronghold of Ilocos Norte province.

    She has faced some 900 civil and criminal cases in Philippine courts since 1991 but has never served prison time. Many of the cases have been dismissed for lack of evidence and a few convictions were overturned on appeal.

    Nearly 10,000 Filipinos won a U.S. class-action suit in 1995 against the Marcos estate for torture, summary executions and disappearances with jurors awarding US$1.9 billion to the victims. More than 7,000 have been compensated after years of waiting.

    Imelda Marcos twice ran unsuccessfully for president but won seats in the House of Representatives, where she is running for re-election to a third and final term in May 9 elections while a daughter is running unopposed as Ilocos Norte governor.

    Left-wing activists, including those detained during the period of martial law, gathered at a university Monday to launch a coalition against Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s vice presidential run, dubbed the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang, or CARMMA. Malacanang is the presidential palace in Manila.

    Coalition leader Bonifacio Ilagan, who was imprisoned and tortured during martial law, warned that if the young Marcos was elected, he would be tantalizingly close to capturing the presidency, which would give him a chance to redeem his family's name by rewriting history.

    “He's the number one defender of his father's regime,” Ilagan said. “If he wins as vice president, it's almost a complete reversal of what was won in 1986.”

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora