Protests were held in the Philippines on Wednesday to criticize an attempt by the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to reclaim power by running for president.
Marcos filed his presidential bid in 2022 with his wife and two sons, further polarizing an already contentious political scene.
“The Marcoses are still out of jail, they haven’t returned all of the money they took from the country’s coffers, and now they’re running for the highest office in the land, that is just simple, blatant gall,” Cristina Palabay of the rights group Karapatan said.
The Marcos family has long worked to repair its image and has refuted charges of it plundering national riches, estimated at $10 billion in 1987, while in power.
Marcos, often known as “Bongbong” and more recently as “BBM,” said he would be a “unifying” leader to help the Philippines deal with the pandemic and economic challenges as the third candidate to register for the presidential election in May 2022.
In a statement, Marcos’ chief of staff Victor Rodriguez stated, “Despite being at the heart of decades-long hate campaigns and rallies, the family has always respected and will continue to respect their freedom to express their emotions.”
Marcos senior was chased from office in a people’s power revolt in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii three years later. The Marcos family returned to the Philippines in the 1990s and became powerful politicians representing their home province of Ilocos Norte.
Ahead of the younger Marcos’s candidacy filing, protesters rallied outside the Commission on Human Rights building in Manila, some burning pictures of the late ruler, as they vowed to block his efforts to return the family to power.
“We know that the Marcoses have long wanted to return to Malacañang (presidential palace) to rearrange history,” human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares told CNN Philippines.
Bongbong Marcos ran for vice president in 2016 but lost to lawyer Leni Robredo, who is also expected to contest the presidency next year.
Presidents are elected separately from the vice president in the Philippines.
Marcos did not name a running mate, but said his Partido Federal ng Pilipinas had wanted to adopt President Rodrigo Duterte as its vice presidential bet had he not decided to retire from politics when his single six-year term ends next year.
Despite stating that she would not run for president, Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, has repeatedly led opinion polls of potential presidential contenders.
Marcos and Duterte-Carpio may run on the same ticket, according to some.
The Marcoses and Dutertes have a close relationship, as seen by the president’s agreement to bury Marcos senior’s body in a Heroes’ Cemetery, despite intense resistance from anti-dictatorship parties.