Miriam Santiago admits Bongbong Marcos team-up ‘strange’
“You look frightened. I don’t bite.”
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago tried to put the nervous staff of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at ease as they processed her certificate of candidacy for President on Friday.
Clad in a red embroidered Filipiniana top, Santiago appeared at the Comelec three hours before the deadline for the filing of candidacy papers, entering a presidential race for the third time since 1992.
She was greeted by Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who paused for photographs with the senator.
At a news conference after she filed her papers, Santiago said her running mate was Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a partnership that she described as “strange” but “a new development.”
“This phenomenon is unique not only for me but also for my running mate,” she said. “But it seems to be a new development that two people from different parties now are running together.”
Santiago, 70, is running under her People’s Reform Party while Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is a member of the Nacionalista Party but running as an independent.
READ: With VP bid, dictator’s son launches Palace comeback / The Marcoses never really left home / To young Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship / The torture of my father and other stories
Marcos, who on Thursday said the partnership with Santiago was not yet final, filed his candidacy papers on Tuesday but did not show up at the Comelec on Friday for Santiago.
Santiago explained that Marcos could not come because he was in his home province, Ilocos Norte, for “urgent political negotiations.”
But on Monday, Marcos will probably join her when she engages netizens in a “meet and greet” at Ang Bahay ng Alumni at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, she said.
Santiago defended her choice of Marcos as her running mate, saying the Marcoses, as a family, did not owe the Filipino people an apology for the human rights abuses during martial law.
“I do not think the Marcoses as a family owe us an apology. It was not the case that President Marcos, the father, told all the Marcoses to come together and they decided jointly to conduct certain activities that were later viewed with disinterest or were criticized by other Filipinos,” Santiago told reporters.
She said it was the elder Marcos and his advisers who made policy decisions during martial law.
“Life does not have to be a constant straight line from one end to another,” she said. “At first, I was one of the people who did not mind the imposition of martial law because it made public order more easy to accept. But eventually I think that martial law did not proceed as intended.”
She added: “But [times have] changed. Your opinions and ideologies are different from those of your parents. You always have to adjust to the times.”
Asked if she agreed with Senator Marcos’ statement that Filipinos today were not concerned about human rights abuses during martial law but about their livelihoods, Santiago said she did not know if Marcos was quoted accurately.
FM burial at Libingan
“It is still important to go over the details of martial law in the country so we will know what path we shall take for the millennials. I do not especially agree, and I beg the pardon of Mr. Marcos, that the details of martial law deserve to be buried and forgotten. No. On the contrary, the historians of tomorrow should make the study deeper so that we will know what lessons they held for our future,” she said.
Santiago also said she would not oppose proposals to bury President Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani if that was the consensus.
“Why should we allow something de facto, such a fact, to disrupt the unity of the Filipino people? I myself have no objection. My own father is buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani. He was a guerrilla captain. I will not as an ordinary citizen hold it against the community if the consensus by that time is to bury one of our former presidents [in Libingan ng mga Bayani]. Why should we let a dead man control the actuations of the living and its new millennial generation? We should let go of the past,” she said.
Santiago drew a large crowd of admirers, who laughed and applauded as she cracked jokes.
She made them laugh by opening her speech with, “Friends, Romans, voters and people who will never be stupid will never be stupid forevermore,” a reference to her newly released book, “Stupid is Forevermore.”
Santiago announced her presidential candidacy on Tuesday, saying she had beaten her stage 4 lung cancer.
She had run twice for the presidency—in 1992, with former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. as her running mate, but lost to Fidel V. Ramos, and in 1998, with former Sen. Francisco Tatad as her partner, but lost to Joseph Estrada.
This time she said she was confident that she would be successful in her run for Malacañang.
“Third time’s always a charm,” she said, adding in jest that she said yes to her husband the third time he proposed to her.
Asked whether she could endure the rigors of a long campaign, Santiago said technology had revolutionized campaigning in the Philippines, indicating that campaign would make extensive use of the Internet.
“There is now the social media. The Internet has radically revolutionized the way young people think and how they affect their own families,” she added.
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