Bongbong Marcos: Aquino must move on

MANILA, Philippines – After President Benigno Aquino III said the Marcoses must apologize for abuses under martial law, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr said Aquino must “move on.” 

The son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said the electoral victory of members of his family showed that Filipinos already forgave the Marcoses. 

In an interview on ABS-CBN's Bandila on Tuesday, October 27, Marcos was asked whether or not Aquino should move on, and the senator said, “Yes.” 

He also answered in the affirmative when asked if the country already forgot his father's dictatorship and moved forward. “Siguro yes. Ibinoboto kami eh.” (Maybe yes. We win elections.) 

Besides the senator, former First Lady Imelda Marcos is in public office as representative of the family's bailiwick of Ilocos Norte while daughter Imee is provincial governor.

Senator Marcos spoke hours after Aquino told a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines that the Marcos children must acknowledge and apologize for allegations of corruption and human rights abuses under their father's regime. 

The President is the son of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr and President Corazon Aquino, fierce rivals of the elder Marcos. Aquino did not directly blame the late Marcos for his father's assassination in 1983 but said “there was a mode of governance that allowed such a thing to happen.”  

Aquino also said he believes that the Filipino people will not allow the Marcoses to return to Malacañang, an obvious reference to Senator Marcos' vice presidential candidacy in the May 2016 polls.  

"I have faith in my bosses, the Filipino people. There's nothing that has caused me to change the faith that they are able to discern,” said Aquino. 

In response, Senator Marcos said his family is not in government for power.

Iyon ang kanyang opinion. Ang amin namang ginagawa ay 'di naghahabol ng puder kundi ipinagpapatuloy lang ang aming serbisyo sa bansa. Kaya't 'di 'yun ang isyu para sa amin kaya 'di namin iniisip ang ganoon klaseng pagbalik sa puder. Ang iniisip lang namin ay anong magagawa natin para maging mas maganda ang buhay sa atin,” Marcos said. 

(That is his opinion. We are not out for power but we are merely continuing our service to the country. So returning to power is not the issue to us. What we are thinking is what we can do to improve people's lives in our country.)  

Marcos reiterated that he does not see why he should apologize for the horrors of martial law. He said his father's administration did not intend the abuses that occurred in the two-decade presidency. (READ: Marcos on dad's regime: What am I to apologize for?)

Kung ito ay talagang maliwanag na sa aming ibinabalak gawin ay mayroon ngang nasaktan o nahirapan, siyempre. Pero ang paghihirap ay 'di yun ang polisiya ng pamahalaan. Kung nangyari man yun, 'di yun ang binabalak ng administrasyon ng aking ama,” he said. 

(If it was clear that we planned to hurt people or make them suffer, then of course, we will apologize. But the suffering was not the policy of the government. If it indeed happened, that was not the plan of my father's administration.) 

'Who doesn't make mistakes?'

Human rights groups and martial law victims criticized Senator Marcos' refusal to apologize for the extra-judicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances under martial law. They vowed to campaign against him. 

In the interview, anchors repeatedly asked Marcos about the issue but he did not budge. 

He admitted that his father had flaws, “like any other person.” 

“Sino ba ang 'di nagkakamali? Diyos lang ang 'di nagkakamali. Siyempre kahit sinong tao, kahit gaano kagaling, gaano kahusay, katiyaga at kasipag, siguro maaring mas pagandahin pa ang trabaho. That's something very accepted. 'Di naman kami ganoon kayabang na sinasabi na ay 'di kami nagkakamali,” Marcos said.

(Who does not make mistakes? Only God does not make mistakes. Of course, any person, no matter how great, how skilled, how persevering, how industrious, perhaps there are things that can be improved on. We are not that arrogant to say we do not make mistakes.) 

Asked what his father's mistake was, the senator replied: “Siguro ang mga pagtiwala sa mga taong 'di niya dapat ipinagkatiwalaan.” (Maybe trusting people who are not trustworthy.) 

Marcos said he wants to emulate the late strongman “in his love for his country, in giving his life in the service of the nation, in going after, and fighting for peace in our country.”

The former Ilocos Norte representative added that he wants his father to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of the Heroes), a controversial proposal that Aquino rejected. The late Marcos' body is preserved in a mausoleum in Ilocos Norte. 

'Assets from resolved cases' 

Marcos also addressed questions about the increase in his net worth, as declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). 

Anchor Ces Drilon noted that Marcos' net worth rose from P600,000 ($12,828) in 1992 to P200 million ($4.27 million) this year. 

“Many of those are assets that we won in cases, so land and other kinds of assets that were added. If you notice in my first SALN, there is a huge part that says 'undetermined' because that was in the courts. Some of those were already resolved so I needed to include those in my SALN because the assets are already with me,” he said. 

The government accuses the Marcos family of stealing $10 billion from public coffers.

Marcos said his assets were not stolen wealth. “Even those who want to criticize me say that I have the most complete SALN of all officials who file SALNs.” 

Marcos also denied meeting with banker Michael de Guzman in 1986 to recover his family's Swiss bank accounts. 

“I don't know why he was there. He was there but not for that purpose. That was not what was discussed so maybe no. The answer to your question would be no,” Marcos told Drilon. 

Now running for the country's second highest post, Marcos said he is against corruption and dictatorship. 

On his father's legacy, he said: “Ang kasaysayan ay nandiyan na. 'Di natin pwedeng palitan. 'Di mo maitutuwid ang baluktot at 'di mo maibabaluktot ang tuwid kaya pabayaan na natin ang kasaysayan ang maghusga sa kanya.” 

(History is already there. You cannot change it. You cannot straighten the crooked, and make the straight crooked so let us just leave history to judge him.) – Rappler.com