Miriam picks Bongbong
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago yesterday announced Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will be her running mate in the 2016 presidential race.Santiago confirmed her plan to have another shot at the presidency after being inducted into the hall of fame of the Philippine Judges Association at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City yesterday.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Santiago told reporters who asked when she would file her certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Santiago confirmed Marcos would be her running mate but was not certain if he would accompany her at the Comelec today when she files her COC. He filed his COC for vice president last Tuesday.

“I don’t know if he’ll be there but he probably will be,” she said, adding that the decision to run with Marcos was “mutual and coincidental.”

Last Tuesday, when Santiago first announced she was pushing through with her plan to run for president in the May 2016 polls, she said she had a running mate in mind but did not disclose his identity.

“I think we mutually chose each other, our two camps. They happened to cross each other, the telephone lines happened to cross each other. It’s coincidental. One camp was calling the other camp,” Santiago said.

Marcos, who filed his COC last Tuesday, was previously in talks with various camps including Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Both did not materialize as Binay eventually chose his fellow United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) partymate Sen. Gregorio Honasan as his running mate while Duterte has repeatedly stated that he will not run for president.

In a statement, Marcos did not confirm that he will run as the vice president of Santiago but said that their camps were still talking.

“I can confirm that I had a lunch meeting with Sec. Jun Santiago (Santiago’s husband Narciso Santiago Jr.) yesterday. We discussed a wide range of subjects concerning the upcoming elections and spoke of possible alliances. We agreed to meet again soon,” Marcos said.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos confirmed Santiago was seriously considering taking her brother as vice presidential candidate.

“Senator Miriam indicated that she wanted Bongbong… it was the first time I heard that and I am really glad,” Imee said.

“Meetings and discussions are ongoing about the possible tandem,” she added.

Imee said her brother has always been “one of the favorite people of Santiago in the Senate.”

Santiago first ran for president in the 1992 elections but lost to Fidel Ramos by less than 900,000 votes.

She claimed she was a victim of poll fraud and went on to file an electoral protest against Ramos.

For the 2016 elections, Santiago would again run under her own political party, the People’s Reform Party.

Santiago has been on medical leave from the Senate for over a year because of chronic fatigue syndrome and later on, stage four lung cancer.

She said the cancer has been arrested and she is healthy enough to make another bid for the presidency.

Santiago is on her last term as senator.

More color

Sen. Grace Poe, who is also running for president, welcomed the entry of Santiago in the presidential race, which she said would provide the electorate with more choices on who would lead the country.

Poe said Santiago is highly qualified and very experienced in public service and so every candidate should be on their toes with her entry into the race.

“Even if you are leading in the surveys, you always have to work as if you were the last. We wish them well,” Poe said.

Poe’s running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero said both Santiago and Marcos are qualified to run for higher office.

“They will add color to a robust political discourse during the campaign that all our voters are looking forward to in order to guide them in their decision come Election Day. I wish them both well,” Escudero said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. wished Santiago and Marcos good luck as they announced their tandem for the 2016 elections.

“Good luck to them,” Belmonte said, adding that he hopes that Santiago has fully recovered from her lung cancer.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgardo Erice, a stalwart of the Liberal Party (LP), said the entry of Santiago into the race makes it more colorful.

“The more, the merrier,” he said.

Another LP lawmaker said more presidential candidates will mean better chances for administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II to win as the votes for the opposition will be divided.

‘Everything changes’

Former President Fidel Ramos remarked how “everything changes” when asked to comment on Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s support for Marcos’ vice presidential bid.

“What we call this, kanya kanyang hilig dyan (to each his own). The world is changing, people are changing, the environment is changing. I am changing,”  the former president said.

Ramos and Enrile were the major players in the EDSA revolution in 1986 that toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the father and namesake of the senator.

Ramos also said that since the world is changing, it’s about time that the country’s Constitution must also be changed.

Asked if he would be declaring his support for a particular presidential bet, Ramos declined to directly answer the question but hinted strongly that he will be supporting Duterte.

Ramos later stressed that he is not endorsing any candidate in next year’s national elections, saying he would still be around for the 2022 elections.

“I am out in 2016. NOTA,” Ramos said, referring to “none of the above.”

On the other hand, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), the political party founded by the Marcoses, expressed its support to the tandem of Santiago and Marcos.

KBL president Vicente Millora said they initially pushed for the tandem of Duterte and Marcos to link up the votes of the “Solid North” to Visayas and Mindanao block votes.

With Santiago choosing Marcos as her running mate, Millora said the KBL has decided to support the tandem.

“The KBL now stand for Kay Bongbong Lagi, that will be our political battle cry,” he said.

A sizeable number of political leaders in Northern Luzon has thrown full support for Marcos’ vice presidential bid. 

Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr., LP chairman of the city, said the northern alliance bloc in the House of Representatives will be supporting Marcos.

The head of the alliance, Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, also a member of the LP, however has refused to comment on the issue. – Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada, Artemio Dumlao, Jaime Laude

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