MANILA, Philippines -- The son and namesake of late Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos has announced he will run for vice president, damping speculation that he will bid for the job his father was ousted from almost 30 years ago.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known as Bongbong, said that talks with incumbent Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is gunning for the presidency, had failed. The elections are in May, drawing hopefuls as varied as Marcos and former world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.
“It would be difficult for me to tame our political differences,” Marcos said, in a statement, referring to Binay. He didn't elaborate except to say “elected officials have an obligation to our people to change the course of our nation’s history.”
Marcos' father did so in 1972 by declaring martial law, shutting down what was known as “the showcase of democracy in Asia,” and hastening its decline from the region’s second strongest economy after Japan to the so-called “sick man of Asia.” The family is still battling allegations of corruption and human rights abuses. In 2004, Forbes put the former dictator in its list of the world’s 10 most corrupt leaders.
Pacquiao, who is on his second term as a congressman, announced Monday that he would run for the Senate. In May of this year, he lost his crown to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Marcos is running on his own, at least for now. While most presidential candidates in the Philippines recruit a vice presidential “running mate,” they are actually voted on separately, paving the way for solo runs. And he may just be waiting for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to announce his bid for the presidency.
Marcos has said he would support Duterte if the mayor ran, and claimed the mayor would support him. Duterte has gained some popularity due to his tough-on-crime reputation, despite allegations of human rights violations.
So far, there are two other serious candidates for president. Sen. Grace Poe topped the senate elections in 2013, her first run for office, on the fame of her late movie star father Fernando Poe Jr.; and, Manuel Roxas, grandson of a president who has served in the Congress and Cabinet since the late 1990s. Roxas was President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino’s running mate in 2010 but lost to Binay. Both Poe and Roxas have announced their vice presidential candidates.
Binay was a leader of the movement that ousted Marcos and brought the incumbent’s mother Corazon Aquino to power in 1986. She rewarded him by appointing him mayor of Makati, the country’s richest city, a post he and his family have held since then, amid official allegations of rampant corruption.
The Marcos family was exiled to Hawaii in 1986, where the former dictator died in 1989. In 1992, his widow Imelda made an unsuccessful run for president. She is now a congresswoman. Marcos himself was a governor and congressman before winning election to the senate in 2010. One of his sisters is now governor of their home province of Ilocos, after serving as congresswoman.