MANILA, Philippines – Moments before the proclamation of winning senators, senator-elect Imee Marcos waxed sentimental about her victory in the 2019 elections.
For her, it harkens back to the first Senate win of her father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in 1959. The Philippines was on the cusp of an economic boom then, something she feels was also the case in 2019.
“Strangely in 1959, exactly 60 years ago, my dad became senator for the first time as well and that was the eve of the great boom in the 1960s. I feel the same kind of raging optismism now with President Duterte in the lead,” she told reporters on Wednesday, May 22, at the Philippine International Convention Center.
This was part of her response to a reporter asking if her 2019 election paves the way for another Marcos presidency.
“Hindi nga makaupo si Bongbong, labis naman ‘yun (They won’t even let Bongbong assume his post, that’s an exaggeration),” was her first response.
She was referring to the still pending electoral protest filed by her brother former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The younger Marcos is claiming victory in the 2016 vice presidential elections and accuses Vice President Leni Robredo and her camp of cheating.
But pressed for an elaboration, Imee said her family has not yet begun thinking of their plans in 2022, when the next presidential elections will take place.
“Napakalayo pa noon. Nagrerecover pa ako sa 2019 at hilo pa kami sa 2016 (It’s too far away. I’m still recovering from 2019 and we’re still dizzy from 2016),” she said.
The Marcoses won seats in the Senate, House of Representatives, Ilocos Norte government, and Laoag City government – a hold on power for their family not seen in the post-Marcos period. (READ: Marcoses take seats in Senate, Congress, province and city)
Future work in Senate
Marcos aims to focus on poverty-alleviating measures when she takes her seat in the Senate.
As to Senate committees she would join, she said neophyte senators may not have as much room to choose.
“Given a chance, I want to stay in the poverty direction so DSWD, social welfare – I want that. I want to be a member of agriculture and finance. Local government is appropriate for me because I used to work with barangays; I was governor,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The social justice, welfare and rural development committee is chaired by opposition Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of President Duterte who has been been detained for over two years on drug charges initiated by the administration.
Marcos is Duterte’s ally, having helped him in his 2016 presidential campaign and benefited from his endorsement in the senatorial race.
The agriculture and food committee is chaired by Senate race topnotcher Cynthia Villar while the finance committee is chaired by third termer Senator Loren Legarda who is leaving the Senate to serve as Antique representative.
The local government committee is led by reelected Senator Sonny Angara.
Message to bashers
Marcos avoided reporters’ questions on her questionable educational attainment claims and the honesty and integrity issues that hounded her during the campaign.
When asked if she would now address those controversies, she said, “Yeah, no, I think I’m going to get back to work right away” before talking about turning over her Ilocos Norte gubernatorial duties to her son, Matthew Marcos Manotoc.
Her family, she said, was used to being a “punching bag.” But her bashers and critics can expect no retaliation from her, she said.
“Alam ninyo napakadami na ng pinagdaanan namin, hindi na namin inaalala ‘yung vindication. So lahat ng mga basher, mga hater, ‘yung mga galit sa amin, huwag na kayo matakot sa akin kasi hindi naman ako mapaghiganti. Gagawa lang tayo ng trabaho,” she said.
(You know, we’ve been through so much that we no longer think of vindication. To all the bashers, haters who are mad at us, don’t be afraid of me because I won’t seek revenge. I will just do my job.)
Throughout the campaign period, she had been under fire for her false claim that she earned a degree from Princeton University and that she graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippine College of Law.
She had also been slammed for refusing to apologize for the human rights abuses during the dictatorship of her father, telling critics, who include Marcos-era victims, to “move on.”
As Ilocos Norte governor, Marcos faced allegations of misusing over P60 million in tobacco excise taxes intended to assist tobacco farmers.
The Commission on Audit and the House of Representatives had recommended the filing of administrative and criminal charges against Ilocos Norte officials under her watch. Then-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales had also begun an investigation into the anomalies. – Rappler.com