Why Marcos Jr. is unfit for the presidency
Leadership is about character. It involves integrity, honesty, hard work, competence, a track record of service to others —essential ingredients for every candidate who aspires to become president of a country.
Though the requirements to run for the Philippine presidency in Section 2 of Article VII on the Executive Department in our 1987 Constitution are sparse, we need to seriously examine the qualifications of those running for the office lest we end up with someone of dubious character.
It is for this reason that I would like to present 10 reasons why I believe Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is unfit for the presidency. For how can he, the dictator’s son, ever lead our country if he has approved, covered up, or been complicit in the commission of past crimes that somehow continue into the present? Saddled with such a record, how can he ever bring about healing and unify our divided country?
My intent here is to respect the facts, set the record straight and expose the fraud.
Marcos Jr. is aware of major judicial rulings in three countries (the Philippines, the United States, and Switzerland) over the years that prove the existence of ill-gotten wealth. But he has decided to look the other way.
He has withheld the truth about the Marcos plunder before and during martial rule, which he has misrepresented as a “golden era.” He knows from multiple accounts that these illicit funds are diversions made from foreign economic aid, US military assistance, and from public and private sources. But he has done nothing to right these wrongs.
He has so far failed to assure us that his election will not be a prelude to finally burying the efforts to recover all ill-gotten wealth that have lain hidden in the labyrinth of injustice these past 35 years.
He appears complicit as a beneficiary in the largest heist of public funds in our history, while abetting corruption among political allies given his association with convicted former presidents and former senators charged with serious offenses, who are supportive of his run.
Marcos Jr. has ignored the testimonies and documented cases of killings, tortures, and arbitrary arrests during his father’s dictatorship as reported by established human rights institutions.
He has never recognized the wrongdoing that took place under the Marcos watch; has never apologized for it, sought pardon, nor provided restitution to countless victims and their loved ones whose lives had been shattered.
Marcos Jr. has perfected the art of fabrication and exaggeration, claiming credit where there was none. He has imitated the exaggerated exploits and “fake medals” claim of his father and applied them to his own “fake degree” from Oxford University.
He has been found guilty by a Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals of tax evasion for the billions of pesos in unpaid taxes racked up by the Marcos estate. Given his record of delaying and obstructing the return of ill-gotten wealth to our country, it is hard to imagine that he can lead efforts to repay the trillions of pesos that the Philippines now owes, in large part due to the pandemic-induced downturn in our economy.
He has engaged the services of consultants and social media experts on the “brand rehabilitation” of the Marcos name. Aided by an army of paid trolls, he has conducted his electoral campaign, in large part, on a strategy of misinformation that seeks to mislead rather than clarify. At worse, his is a playbook built on outright lies.
He has never acknowledged the serious nature of the abuses committed during the martial law period and never sought forgiveness, and yet claims to be a “unifying leader” when his election would in fact deepen the divisions among our people and reopen the wounds inflicted by his father’s dictatorial rule. His return to power will raise more questions than answers and provoke rage so that instead of moving forward, people will be litigating unanswered questions to a past that continues to be present.
The coming election is far too important to leave to chance; in the end, our choice is really about who we are as a people.
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Ed Garcia is a framer of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, a former researcher at the international secretariat of Amnesty International, and a peace envoy at International Alert.