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The Manila Times
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman’s
Weekly Thursday Column

THE tandem of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for president under Partido Federal ng Pilpinas and Sara Duterte-Carpio for vice president under Lakas-CMD was forged for two major reasons.

First, to stop the ever-increasing nationwide support for Vice President Leni Robredo whose ennobling aspiration is to win the presidency for the people and vanquish the forces of Marcos and Duterte, who seek political power for ulterior and familial agenda.

This spontaneous and committed volunteerism is engendered by the steadfast realization that Leni will uplift the lives of Filipinos; revive the moribund economy; prevail over the Covid-19 pandemic; and institute ethics, goodwill, and accountability in governance. Such volunteerism cannot be dampened by money or subdued by expensive false propaganda. Its momentum strengthens every day. It is clearly reminiscent of the popular support for Ramon Magsaysay in 1953 and for Cory Aquino in 1986. No mighty machinery and limitless logistics can foil the people’s choice.

Second, to cement a formidable alliance. The Marcos, Jr. and Sara cohesion of forces is a realization that they would be flirting with disaster if they pursue separate presidential bids as this would split the support of their voters coming from the same corral. Moreover, their separate runs will hinder the solidification of voters from their respective bailiwicks in Ilocos and Davao.

However, the merger between the scions of the late dictator and the incumbent president who has become authoritarian has a chemistry for mischief, if not repression and corruption, which inheres in their parallel ancestries. This is not to ascribe guilt to the offspring for the sins of their forebears. But it is undeniable that children who consciously profit from the excesses of their parents’ power and wealth will defend, protect, and enhance their ancestral perks and holdings at the people’s expense. Marcos, Jr. will definitely complete the improvident distortion and perfidious revision of Philippine history which his family has started by finally sweeping under the rug the evils of his father’s martial law regime, and Sara will give succor and sanctuary to her father from the International Criminal Court’s investigation for crimes against humanity consequent to his bloody war on drugs. 

But what does Sara bring to the partnership? She is a relatively political lightweight without her father’s influence and affluence. The same is true with Marcos, Jr. who is pittance without the infamous hegemony of his dictator-father and his dubious fortune.

For their tandem to be formidable, it must have the blessing and support of President Rodrigo Duterte who still has residual political power. However, Duterte rejected any alliance with Lakas-CMD because it is supporting Marcos, Jr. for president. He said he does not believe in Marcos, Jr. because he “is a very weak leader”. Moreover, Duterte said Marcos, Jr. has done nothing for the country, he is a spoiled rich kid who “uses cocaine”, and his only claim to fame is his being the namesake of the late President and strongman Marcos.

Having been spurned by Sara’s defiance of his wish that she run for president, Duterte summons all efforts to make Marcos, Jr. lose and Bong Go win as his anointed successor. He has consistently proclaimed his support for his longtime aide and confidante. In fact, he has invited Representatives to Malacañang where he endorsed Go’s presidential bid and Sara’s vice-presidential run.

But Filipinos cannot be swayed or coerced to install a Duterte puppet. Likewise, a weak leader does not deserve the people’s mandate.

Duterte’s description of Marcos, Jr. as “a very weak leader” echoes the dictator Marcos’ own assessment of his son. In his handwritten diary dated June 12, 1972, he wrote that “Bongbong is our principal worry. He is too carefree and lazy … The boy must realize his weakness – the carefree, wayward ways that may have been bred in him.”

The lackluster performance of Marcos, Jr. as senator and representative is in character. As senator in the 15th and 16th Congresses, he did not principally author any landmark legislation. He brags about legislating the renaming of streets like the “Gov. Benjamin ‘Kokoy’ T. Romualdez Diversion Road”, granting city charters, reapportioning legislative districts, and marking foundation anniversaries, all local bills emanating from the House of Representatives. The same anemic performance marked his tenure as representative during the 9th and 14th Congresses. While he claimed authorship of the Youth in Nation-Building Act (RA 8044) and the Archipelagic Baselines Law (RA 9522), he was not the initiatory and lead author of either Act.

An embarrassing incident in the 9th Congress revealed Marcos, Jr.’s lack of leadership skills and cowardice. After he made a statement in plenary on the “golden days” of his father’s martial law regime, Rep. Hernando Perez and I stood up to interpellate him. He refused to be interpellated, unceremoniously left the plenary hall, and never returned for the day.

Duterte’s allegation that a male presidential candidate has been using cocaine was not made in hieroglyphics. Marcos, Jr. is readily identifiable and this is made more vivid by the fact that the accusation was made in the context of Duterte’s opposing his presidential aspiration. The response of Marcos, Jr.’s camp that he did not feel alluded to was tragically pathetic and inordinately evasive. His reported escapades with cocaine, the shabu of the rich, have been the talk of the town as early as 2016. No validation has yet been made. He denied these earlier accusations and said he was willing to take a drug test but he never disclosed any negative result. This time, after initially hedging, he took a cocaine drug test on Nov. 22, 2021 and submitted the “negative result” to the authorities. He underwent the routine “test kit” apparently using a urine sample. He should voluntarily undergo at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency the more accurate hair follicle test which can detect cocaine use over a length of time.

Although drug addiction per se is not a ground for disqualification, a candidate, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion of any wrongdoing.

The voters now have more compelling reasons in addition to his tax offenses to reject the dictator’s namesake whose tandem with Sara Duterte-Carpio is only speculatively formidable but truly surmountable.


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