In the Philippines, voters will elect a new president today. They also will elect a vice president -- the country’s second highest position.
One of the leading candidates for vice president is the son of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is currently a member of the Philippine Senate. His political campaign has called for finding real solutions to the country’s problems.
During a recent campaign stop, the 57-year-old candidate told a crowd near Manila Bay that he takes the office of vice president very seriously.
“We’re not just all talk,” he said. “It’s not just slogans. It’s not just destroying and fighting with our opponents.”
Marcos has also told supporters that he wants to achieve unity, for all to live as one. “This is the only way I see that our people can once again feel their lives are renewed and progressing,” he said.
His father, the former president, was accused of plundering billions of dollars and violating the human rights of citizens.
Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was ousted in a “people power” rebellion in 1986. At the time, his political opponents accused him of trying to steal an election from another candidate. After several days of protests, the dictator went into exile in the American state of Hawaii, where he died three years later.
Today, his son, who calls himself “Bongbong,” is very popular in the Philippines, even if his family’s name is linked to a turbulent time.
Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has so far been at the top or tied in national opinion surveys. His strongest support has generally come from people who lived under his father’s rule.
Dennis Pareja is a cargo ship employee and a supporter of the candidate. He said the Oxford-educated Marcos would be a good choice for the country’s overseas workers.
“This is not a ‘like father, like son’ situation,” Pareja said. “He’s different from his father. Bongbong has learned the lessons and will not repeat that.”
Marcos told reporters at a gathering of workers that no one can change the past. “The past is the past, so we are looking to the future. That’s what’s getting us the support,” he said.
Marcos was asked whether his family should say it is sorry for alleged abuses committed during his father’s rule. He has repeatedly said he would not apologize for things he did not do.
Another supporter of Marcos Jr. is Roly Alvarez, who was 17 years old when the candidate’s father declared martial law in 1972. She said life was “beautiful” back then, and she longs for the days when crime was low.
Another supporter, Josh Lim of Manila, said Filipinos need to do research to find the real reasons why the country’s wealth collapsed in the 1980s.
“Many people said that we are number two to Japan during Marcos’ time. And well, it is sad that our history, the Philippine history, was distorted by the yellow people, yellow propaganda, if you’re aware of that.”
Josh Lim was talking about the Aquino family. Former president Corazon Aquino made a yellow ribbon and yellow-colored clothing a sign of the restoration of democracy in 1986.
Bonifacio Ilagan is the head of a movement aimed at preventing Marcos from becoming vice president. Ilagan said he plans to keep campaigning against the candidate.
“I don’t think our country deserves a leader who lies, who keeps stolen money, and who cannot recognize right from wrong.”
Observers say that while Marcos seems to be leading his six main vice presidential opponents, his levels of support have remained flat for the past four months.
In recent weeks, Leni Robredo, the candidate of the Liberal Party, has slowly moved up in the polls, edging past Marcos by one or two percentage points.
I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.
Words in This Story
poll – n. the process of voting in an election
solution – n. the means of solving a problem or dealing with a situation
achieve –v. being successfully in reaching a desired goal or objective
renew – v. to continue to an activity or event after an interruption
plunder – v. to steal goods from a place or people, usually by force
turbulent – adj. characterized by conflict, disorder or confusion
alleged – adj. said to have happened, but not yet proven
martial law – n. a law imposed by a military-backed government
restoration – n. the act of returning something to a former owner, place or condition