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Duterte on Marcoses: They were young, what's their fault?

Ferdinand E. Marcos with his wife, Imelda at his side, gestures strongly from the balcony of Malacanang Palace on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1986 in Manila, just after taking the oath of office as President of the Philippines. Just hours later, Marcos resigned and fled to the U.S. Air Force's Clark Air Base, 50 miles northwest of Manila, as he prepared to accept an American offer to fly him out of the Philippines. Photo by AP/Alberto Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — “What’s their fault?”

President Rodrigo Duterte posed this question as he claimed that Imee Marcos and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. were still young during the dictatorial rule of their father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Duterte made the remarks in a televised interview on Friday night as he recalled how he got connected with the Marcoses.

His father, Vicente Duterte, was a member of the Marcos administration’s Cabinet.

“At that time, si Bongbong Marcos, binata pa. He was only about seven years old when… Anong kasalanan nila?” Duterte said.

NEWSLAB: What was the role of the first family during martial law?

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“Bakit hindi ako magpunta, mag-shake hands? Anong kasalanan ni Imee? Bata ‘yan sila lahat.  Ang matanda lang doon si Imelda pati si Ferdinand,” Duterte added.

Imee, who was born in 1955, turned 17 when her father declared martial law while her brother Bongbong, who was born in 1957, was 15 at that time.

Marcos, whose presidency was tainted by human rights abuses and massive corruption, was toppled in a 1986 "People Power" revolution. At that time, Imee was 30 and Bongbong was 28.

Despite the death of the strongman in exile in Hawaii in 1989, his family has been making a political comeback with his widow, Imelda, and their children getting elected to office.

In the same interview on Friday, Duterte said “guilt is personal,” adding that someone should not be blamed and held responsible  for another person’s fault, unless there was a conspiracy.

“‘Yan ang intricacies ng batas eh,” he remarked.

Last year, Duterte granted the longstanding wish of the Marcos family to bury the strongman's remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in a surprise ceremony.

He also declared September 11 a special non-working day in Ilocos Norte upon the family's request to mark the ex-leader's 100th birthday anniversary.

Duterte recently denied receiving help from the Marcos family despite his previous admission that the influential political clan supported him during last year's presidential campaign.

Last August, Duterte said the Marcos family had agreed to return their vast unexplained wealth, including a “few gold bars,” to the government.

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