Written by Staff Writer
“Why? Nobody cares. Do you think that now in the 21st century you need a president who is your children’s friends?”
That’s why, said Leni Robredo, her father’s candidate for the Philippine presidency in next year’s election, “I decided to listen to him. He was my father.”
The two are the parents of the presumptive Philippine presidential couple, Jr. and Marcia Marcos, whose family has been by far the most notorious in the Philippines.
Six years ago, the Marcoses’ trials and political troubles came to a crashing halt with the declaration of Marcia as the interim president after her father, Ferdinand Marcos, resigned while under house arrest. Marcos was convicted of corruption and other crimes in 1986. The Marcoses deny any wrongdoing, and it was widely assumed that they would be allowed to leave the country. But soon thereafter a congressional inquiry found that the family had accumulated $10 billion, nearly 30% of the Philippines’ GDP, in “wasteful and corrupt” spending. The family could not escape.
At the time of the declaration of Marcos’ daughter as the interim president, Philippines President Corazon Aquino pledged to keep her in power until Congress established a Senate to substitute her. On December 23, she was sworn in as the full president, giving her administration what may prove to be its most challenging and controversial task.
It came as a shock, for instance, to Filipinos weary of rampant corruption to learn that one of the most able members of the Aquino government, Leni Robredo — one of the few Filipinos who had been elected in 2009 as a member of the National Assembly — had been made VP.
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She will soon be joining the other Aquino children, Sen. Grace and Sen. Alan. To many Filipinos, however, she is by far the most famous of the Aquino siblings because she was the first presidential nominee to not belong to the political dynasties of the great past Philippine dynasties such as the Marcos or Pasionias of the past. The youngest of their siblings, she, too, was the daughter of a president.
In the Marcos family saga — during a time when the Aquino family was the most admired and respected of that era — she was one of the few Filipinos with an impressive public record of accountability and probity.
When she was governor of Davao del Norte, she inherited a province ranked as the most corrupt in the nation. No one can challenge her record, as it stands now.
Her father’s declaration of her as the nation’s first female vice president — based on her track record in government and the commitments she had already made regarding the most important issues of poverty, health, education and job creation — was well received by many Filipinos. President Aquino declared her to be her “princess.” The Sandiganbayan Court in the Philippines also dubbed her Aquino’s “Auntie Leni.”
A spokesman for Jr. Marcos, Ronald James Animas, called her the future president. “Will Leni be joining the president’s cabinet? Hard to say. But she’s already the first Filipino first lady, the first female vice president, the first LGBT First Lady. I’m sure she’s already going to try out for a couple of cabinet posts. It’s the democratic system.”
The Marcos family has long been rich and apparently the richest in the nation. In 2015, however, much of it was confiscated from them by the Philippine authorities — which means that the money will be put to use by the government, which says that the Marcos “family are now rich, famous and infamous for corruption,” according to Editorial Page Editor in Chief of Reuters Phillip Bratthorp, who has covered the family throughout the decades.
In that regard, his insights are worth listening to.
“Marcos once had a golden rule, actually I wish he still did: Don’t lie. He made sure to spread the wealth around because he could. [The Marcoses] allegedly amassed a fortune that left the Marcos family filthy rich even after [their father] left the country.
“This went on for many years until the Marcos family was finally snared in the 1980s and the president, Corazon Aquino, persuaded them to give all their money up.”
So now what does Leni Robredo do? Will she try to impeach the president’s daughters? “I’ll leave that up to my media officers,” she said.