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The Bongbong that I Know Can Be Scary

When the Supreme Court released this week the initial recount results in Bongbong Marcos’ election protest against Leni Robredo, the incumbent vice president of the Philippines who won by around 280,000 votes, Bongbong’s initial reaction was to claim that Leni had already robbed him three years of what could have been his six-year term as vice president.

Full of chutzpah, the namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had the audacity to accuse Leni of being a thief when it was the Marcos family that had been found guilty by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1990 of hiding $356 million in Swiss banks through dubious foundations.

It appears that the former dictator has left behind a legacy to Bongbong that reflects the Shakespearean “the evil that men do lives after them.”

Leni’s response to Bongbong was swift and to the point, “It’s funny that he is the one saying it…Between the two of us, it’s not me who has the habit of robbing.” Ouch!

It’s no secret that Imelda Marcos harbors hope that Bongbong will someday become the president of the Philippines. After being disempowered during the 1986 People’s Revolution, the Marcoses are back, not only to redeem themselves, but to build on whatever they think is the legacy of their late dictator father. For Bongbong to win the vice presidency and eventually the presidency is the only way to do it. There’s no other way.

Bongbong is probably elated at the way the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is doing its job. I am beginning to have a sneaking suspicion that something fishy is going on. What is preventing the Supreme Court from dismissing Bongbong’s protest despite Bongbong’s failure to recover a substantial number of votes in the recount of the three pilot provinces is beyond me.

Bongbong’s ambition has increasingly put him at odds with many Filipinos, especially those who have suffered from and still remember the atrocities committed by his father who was the chief architect of Martial Law. His continuous denial of his father’s mistakes is what makes me view him as a threat to democracy despite his attempt to soften such an impression. Remember, he is still a Marcos and unrepentant at that.

This is the problem with Bongbong. He continues to deny his father’s wrongdoings in his attempt to sanitize the evil that was Martial Law. Bongbong was already of age during the Martial Law years. He might not be a direct participant in the atrocities committed by his father being the commander-in-chief, but he was old enough to know what had happened.

Remember his response when asked to comment on his father’s Martial Law regime: “What am I to say sorry about?”

He once said, “Kung ito ay talagang maliwanag na sa aming ibinabalak gawin ay mayroon ngang nasaktan o nahirapan, siyempre. Pero ang paghihirap ay ‘di yon ang polisiya ng pamahalaan. Kung nangyari man yun, ‘di yun ang binabalak ng administrayson ng aking ama,” (

(If it was clear that we planned to hurt people or make them suffer, then of course, we will apologize. But the suffering was not the policy of the government. If it indeed happened, that was not the plan of my father’s administration.)

I admit that being the son of the former dictator Bongbong is duty-bound to defend his father. But there is a catch – he wants to be the vice president and eventually the president.

Again, he may or he may not win in his electoral protest. But if he does, he is one step closer to being a president someday.

Is there something wrong with Bongbong becoming a president? There is.

Like his father, Bongbong also denies the existence of documented human rights violations during Martial Law numbering around 100,000, including tortures, incarcerations, salvaging, and enforced disappearances.

Like his father whose 33 medals and awards resulting from his military exploits during World War II were exposed as fake, Bongbong’s degree at Oxford University was also exposed as fake.

Like his father and his family who benefitted from the family’s ill-gotten wealth, Bongbong is also a beneficiary of the family’s Swiss bank accounts amounting to $356 million.

Like his father, Bongbong also paints the Martial Law years as a time of peace and economic prosperity.

Like his father, Bongbong also believes there is nothing to apologize for the declaration of Martial Law.

Bongbong may not be his father. But he is similar to his father in many ways. And as long as he continues to flaunt his ignorance of what happened during the Martial Law years, he can be dangerous. And this is scary.

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