Bongbong Marcos: Tandem with Miriam ‘not a surprise’ to me

Pia Ranada
Bongbong Marcos: Tandem with Miriam ‘not a surprise’ to me
'We believe in many of the same things,' says Senator Bongbong Marcos, addressing questions on his perceived odd tandem with Senator Miriam Santiago

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr begged to differ on the opinion that his tandem with Senator Miriam Santiago for the 2016 elections was a strange development. 

“It did not come as a surprise to me. It turns out we believe in many of the same things,” he told reporters on Thursday, November 5.

His statement comes after mixed reactions from citizens about the tandem – one, the son of a former dictator hounded by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption; the other, an anti-corruption advocate.

Marcos said he and Santiago have many “advocacies and ideologies” in common.

“Good governance is at the top of the list, then we would like to be specific about our view on the present state of the country, what problems we are facing and how those problems may be solved.”

He even joked that he and Santiago have problems with temper when it comes to incompetent officials.

Pareho kami ni Senator Miriam, pareho kaming may high blood ‘pag meron kaming nakikitang mahihina at tatanga-tanga sa gobyerno (Senator Miriam and I both get high blood pressure when we see incompetent and stupid people in government). So maybe that will be our slogan,” he said.

Their platform will tackle issues on ensuring affordable basic goods, fighting drugs and criminality, ending unfair labor practices such as contractualization, job creation, and solving Metro Manila traffic and public transportation woes, among others, he said.

“Our solutions for this will not necessarily be new laws or policies but we will improve what is already there,” added Marcos.

Senatorial slate

With elections just a few months away, he said both the Marcos and Santiago camps are working out the “nuts and bolts” of their campaign strategy.

“We are already planning what events we are going to attend, if together or separate,” he said, adding that theirs is a “loose coalition.”

They are also currently ironing out their platform and deciding on who to invite to join their senatorial slate. 

Among the candidates Marcos confirmed would be on their slate are Leyte First District Representative Martin Romualdez, his cousin; and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno. He has proposed that boxing champion and Sarangani Represenative Manny Pacquiao join them as well.

He said they would likely be fielding a complete 12-person senatorial line-up. 

‘I take her word for it’

When asked, Marcos said he is not bothered by Santiago’s decision not to reveal records about her medical condition, a demand from groups saying less than full disclosure compromised her commitment to transparency. (READ: Dear Miriam Defensor-Santiago)

“If she says she is ready, she can campaign, she can run, I take her word for it,” he said, adding that there was no regulation or law that compels Santiago to reveal her medical records. 

“I don’t think she would’ve embarked on this knowing what a presidential campaign is like, what the demands are upon her. She won’t get into something she can’t handle,” he said. 

Santiago announced in July 2014 that she had stage 4 lung cancer, then claimed a year later that she had “licked” the disease.  

Marcos, who was twice governor, and a former representative, of Ilocos Norte, admits he is counting on the “Solid North” vote, referring to the tendency of Northern Luzon regions to vote for a single candidate.

He said the “bloc” comprises almost 6 million voters.

“The talks among our friends there to form again a ‘Solid North’ are very encouraging. I think we can manage that,” he said.

Still hounded by questions about carrying on the legacy of his father, the late president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, he said, “There is no purpose trying to compare.”

He quickly followed up the statement by saying there are “lessons to learn from the past” but that his mindset coming into the elections is focused on present-day problems. (READ: Marcos: Filipinos want solutions, not ‘history talk’)

“‘Those who do not learn from history are damned to repeat it, and we do not want that. The whole point is to move forward. That’s why you address the problems of today with the available solutions that you have today, not what happened two generations ago,” he emphasized.

Marcos has been slammed by human rights groups and the Aquino administration for remaining unapologetic about the corruption and human rights abuses during his father’s regime. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at