First Lady on Imee: I am just the ‘out-law’

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
First Lady on Imee: I am just the �out-law�
Senator Imee Marcos on January 30, 2024.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — After admitting her relationship with Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has soured, First Lady Liza Marcos also hinted at tension with her sister-in-law Sen. Imee Marcos.

In an hour-long interview with broadcaster Anthony Taberna aired on YouTube early yesterday, the First Lady said the last time she talked to the senator was last Christmas.

Asked why the senator seemed not to be defending her brother President Marcos from criticisms, the First Lady said: “You should ask her. I am just the out-law. I know what line not to cross.”

Pressed on whether she is on speaking terms with Imee, Liza said the President’s elder sibling is always invited to their regular family lunch on Sundays.

Liza said her mother-in-law, former first lady Imelda Marcos once asked her why she was not inviting Imee to their lunch.

“Every Sunday, we have a family lunch. Once my mother-in-law said, ‘Hija, di mo iniimbita si Imee sa mga ano.’ ‘Mom, ako pa? May group chat kami. Lahat sila nandiyan.’ Sabi niya, ‘Anong group chat?’ ‘Ah mommy…’ No, no. But she’s (Imee) always invited,” Liza said.

The senator, who has maintained close ties with the Vice President and the Dutertes, has emerged as a leading critic of many of the President’s key policies. She has questioned many of her brother’s major decisions, including on foreign affairs.

Imee was not seen in recent family photos shared by the First Lady on social media.

Last month, Imee backed former president Rodrigo Duterte’s “gentleman’s agreement” with China on the West Philippine Sea, which President Marcos hit as a “secret deal” that could have compromised the country’s “territory, sovereignty and sovereign rights.”

Imee called the critics of the Duterte-Beijing deal as overacting or exaggerated.

Snubbing Sara

Admitting that she was hurt when Sara was seen laughing in a video when her father, the former president, called the President “bangag” or high on drugs during a recent prayer rally in Davao City, the First Lady admitted ignoring the Vice President during previous sendoff and arrival ceremonies for her husband at Villamor Air Base.

“You’re (Sara) supposed to be the alter ego, we’re there protecting you, you’re going to do that? That’s wrong, you crossed the line. I’m many things but I’m not a hypocrite,” Liza said.

The First Lady cited instances when she intentionally ignored the Vice President.

“During departure time…normally we (she and Sara) talk. So, I don’t want to. Somebody went to me and said, ‘Oh, you’re beautiful today,’ and I said ‘No, I look bangag... Bangag is the word of the day,” Liza said.

Liza was reacting to videos that circulated online showing her snubbing Sara. The icy encounter between the two was captured during Marcos’ departure ceremony for Vietnam in January.

“So, after that, I snubbed her. I’d do it again. I mean, that’s not right, you don’t do that. That’s entitled politics. You’re in the government, you’re the Vice President,” the First Lady said.

During the arrival ceremony for Marcos from a state visit to the Czech Republic last month, Liza said she saw the Vice President and her husband told her to “behave” but she said, “I told him, wrong person, honey.”

Not hitting back

Liza is not hitting back at critics even with “lies” thrown against her and her family “became more and more stupid.”

In the interview with Taberna, Liza belied accusations thrown against her and the President, including supposedly influencing some of her husband’s major decisions.

“Actually, at the beginning, because I was private, I was hurt. But the lie became more and more stupid, right? It’s like, oh my God, what are you doing? Have pity on yourself?” the First Lady said.

“You know, somebody told Bong, why aren’t you standing up? Why don’t you say something? You know what he said? It has to stop at some point. If you think all the past and other, vindictive… did you ever hear my husband talk bad about anyone? It has to stop,” Liza said.

‘Bring it on, honey’

The First Lady was asked by Taberna for a message to her detractors, and she replied: “Bring it on, honey. You’re the size of your enemy. You’re not my enemy, like I said I will never stoop to that level. I will never stoop to that. However, however. Every time they say that, they become uglier and uglier. OK, just look at their face… Look at their life. Bring it on. There’s such a thing as karma,” she said.

Liza, however, said she has no plans of taking legal action against their critics.

“You know, I’m a lawyer, right? Filing charges is my life…I’ll just waste my time, filing fees. It (bashing) has to stop. It has to stop somewhere,” she said.

Liza said that she expects the maligning to stop in 1,500 days, or the remaining days her husband has in office.

“But, well, if you’re happy that way, there’s such a thing as karma. I’m sure after 1,500 days, she’ll stop talking about me,” referring to an anti-Marcos vlogger.

Vice President urged: Quit Cabinet

League of Cities of the Philippines national chairman Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Friday called on Vice President Duterte to consider stepping down from her Cabinet post.

“It seems inappropriate for a Vice President, who campaigned under the same party as the President, to participate in such events and react with amusement to the attacks,” Benitez and Treñas stressed.

“Moreover, as the Secretary of Education, she is a key member of the President’s Cabinet. A certain level of solidarity is expected. There are unspoken rules and lines that should not be crossed,” they said.

Adhering to delicadeza, it may be wise for her to consider stepping down, to preserve the integrity and unity of the administration, Benitez said. — Gilbert Bayoran

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