MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Three days after her surprise declaration, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago made official her presidential bid in the 2016 elections by filing her certificate of candidacy on Friday afternoon, October 16.
At the Commission of Elections office in Intramuros, Manila, she also defended her running mate, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, from critics.
After she announced their tandem on Thursday, October 15, many have slammed the lady senator for teaming up with Marcos, son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
But on Friday, she said things that happened in the past “need to be evaluated according to the circumstances.” (READ: Marcos on dad’s regime: What am I to apologize for?)
“I do not think that on a family basis, the Marcoses as a family owe us an apology,” she said, adding that decisions made then – for instance, setting up curfews and regulating the issuance of firearms – were not made by the Marcos family but by President Marcos and his advisers.
“What they were doing were, in their ideas, [in] the best interest of the Filipino people,” she added.
She also disclosed that as a magazine columnist at that time, she at first praised “what I thought were the happy results of Martial Law,” but as time went on, she became more critical, sardonic, and sarcastic.
“I think what should happen is there should be a forthright disclosure of all documents and written remembrances of those times so we can agree at least on what the facts were,” she said.
Santiago was a Regional Trial Court judge during the Martial Law period, and one of her “memorable decisions,” she said, was when she set free about 50 students from the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University after they were “wrongly” arrested by the police.
“Yes I do [affirm that decision]. I was correct…. The truth will always be truth, and justice will always be justice.”
‘Times have changed’
Santiago first ran for president in 1992. She lost to retired military general Fidel V. Ramos, whom she accused of cheating her. Her electoral protest was deemed abandoned when she ran for senator after that.
She ran for president again in 1998 elections but lost. That election was won by Joseph Estrada, who appointed Santiago’s husband as undersecretary at the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
In her latest presidential bid, Santiago is running under People’s Reform Party, the party she organized for her first two presidential bids.
“Times have changed…Campaigns and elections have changed in the Philippines. There is more social media, the Internet has radically revolutionized the way young people think and how they affect their own families, parents, siblings,” she said on Friday when asked about how she will run her campaign.
Society leaders have been urging Santiago to run as early as 2014, and she herself believes the next president of the Philippines should be a woman. Her plans became unclear, however, when she announced that she was suffering from stage 4 lung cancer.
She later said she would run for president since her doctors had cleared her of the illness. – Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler.com
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