Being a Marcos
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2019 - 12:00am

We resumed our Kapihan sa Manila Bay regular breakfast news forum at Café Adriatico after a respite during Christmas and New Year holidays. We had Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos as our featured guest last Wednesday. Coinciding with the onset of election period in our country, we invited Gov. Marcos who is among the more than 100 candidates so far qualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to run in the senatorial race in the coming May 13 mid-term elections.

This is actually her comeback bid to join the next Congress. She once served for three consecutive terms in the previous Congresses from 1998 to 2007. In fact, she served as Ilocos Norte Congresswoman together with then Tarlac Congressman Benigno Simeon “Noy” Aquino III.

At present, she is on her third and last term as Ilocos Norte Governor. Her son, Ilocos Norte Board member Matthew Marcos Manotoc, is running for the governorship in their home province.

For the first time, Gov. Marcos is running for a national position – not just in their family bailiwick of Ilocos Norte – it would require her to woo voters in all parts of the country.  Thus, she would have to deal with unsettled issues related to the Marcoses ill-gotten wealth cases. Sadly, majority of which cases remain under trial in various courts, here and abroad, more than 30 years ago following the ouster of the late president Ferdinand Marcos during the February 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Originally, former first lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Congresswoman Imelda Marcos who is on her third and last term in the 17th Congress, is supposed to run for governor. But the Marcos matriarch, who is turning 90 years old this year, withdrew after Sandiganbayan convicted her on Nov. 9 for seven counts of graft and sentenced her to a maximum of 11 years imprisonment. She was charged with making seven bank transfers totaling $200 million to Swiss foundations during her term as Metro Manila governor. She appealed her conviction and is out on bail. A nephew of her late husband, Angelo Marcos Barba is running in her congressional district.

Naturally, the same issues and questions on her family’s ill-gotten wealth cases are being raised over and over again, especially now that the outgoing Ilocos Norte Governor is running for national office. In fact, these nagging questions surfaced again during our Kapihan sa Manila Bay the other day.

Anyway, she has a standard reply by invoking the legal maxim of sub judice, a rule against discussing in public the merits of the case, lest face contempt of court charges.

A member of the Nacionalista Party (NP) like her late father, the Ilocos Norte Governor is running under the regional coalition Hugpong ng Pagbabago headed by presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Aside from Gov. Marcos, NP has two other women senatorial candidates. They are re-electionist Senator Cynthia Villar and Taguig Congresswoman Pia Cayetano. The all-women NP senatorial bets are jokingly called “Tres Marias.”

 The “Tres Marias” are also in the administration-backed coalition senatorial ticket being supported no less by President Rodrigo Duterte. After all, the Ilocos Norte Governor helped deliver the “solid North” to then Davao City Mayor in the May 2016 presidential elections.

 As she gathered from President Duterte himself, Gov. Marcos disclosed, the chieftain of the ruling administration PDP-Laban has raised the hands of 16 senatorial candidates who, like her, sought presidential endorsement. On the other hand, she was told, Hugpong is supporting 14 senatorial candidates, including her.

But only 12 senatorial wannabes can make it in the magic winning circle.

As of the latest mock polls conducted by both the Social Weather Station and the Pulse Asia, the “Tres Marias” are all in the winners’ circle. The 63-year-old Gov. Marcos is no greenhorn though in politics. In fact, she joined politics early in her life as the prime mover of the Kabataang Barangay, the forerunner of the present Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).

If fate smiles on her, she will be the third Marcos to sit at the Philippine Senate. The first was their late father and then his namesake son, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who served for two consecutive terms. Thus, she is not taking any chances in the coming automated election system that would use the Smartmatic technology and machines for the fourth time in our country. 

She particularly cited the case of the vice presidential debacle of her brother, Bongbong who run but lost in the May 2016 elections. It was won by Vice President Leni Robredo but whose victory is being contested by ex-Sen. Marcos before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Gov. Marcos is asking information technology (IT) experts to closely monitor the conduct of the coming polls on May 13. She pointed to the transmission of votes “where the magic happens” undetected by human eyes.

If elected Senator, she vows to pursue a legislative agenda that would squarely address inflation problem that further impoverish the Filipino poor. Specifically, she pointed to the need of increasing and improving the productivity of Philippine agriculture.

 As one of the co-authors of the Cheaper Medicine Law, she wants to revisit this and add ways to further bring down the cost of medicines other than the selective exemption from the 12 percent value added tax (VAT). The VAT for diabetes, hypertension and high-cholesterol medication were removed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) starting last Jan. 1.

 Marcos promised to also amend the law that would allow motorcycle taxis to operate as a transport service. She shares this common concern with motorcycle-driving Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to have more efficient and available public transport service needed in their localities.

Being a Marcos is both a plus and minus factor for her. While she may be in the “magic 12” win circle on surveys and the endorsements of the Dutertes, Gov. Marcos could stand on her own merits.

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