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The Truth about Bongbong Marcos

I’ve never met Bongbong Marcos. But I’ve seen him on TV lately, wearing his trademark red shirt and smiling, as he waves to his supporters in many of his campaign sorties.

At 64, he now looks like his father and even sounds like his father when he speaks with his raspy voice.

It’s no secret that Imelda Marcos harbors hope that Bongbong will someday become the president of the Philippines. He is the family’s “knight in shining armor” who will deliver the final blow, by whatever means possible, to sanitize his father’s legacy of systemic corruption, crippled economy, and widespread violation of human rights that the international community has condemned.

I know nothing about Bongbong more than that he was once a governor, a member of the House of Representatives, and a senator.

I remember him as a young man dressed in military uniform, standing close to his father, as his father addressed the Filipinos 36 years ago in 1986 to end his 20-year dictatorship. That was when his father was toppled by the People Power Revolution.

Being a Marcos, Bongbong attracts attention.

Being the son of a former dictator, he is the target of so many unanswered questions.

Being a person who has plenty of life experience as a politician, he is believed by his supporters to be obsequious in his alleged commitment to improve the lives of Filipinos.

Bongbong’s image as a successful politician is enhanced by the narrative of a divided nation and his call for unity that resonates with many.

But what’s really the truth about Bongbong?

Bongbong has a propensity for lying. He has difficulty accepting the truth. He continues to lie that he obtained a BA degree from Oxford University despite Oxford University’s official confirmation that what he got was not a degree but a special diploma in social studies.

He distorts the truth by falsely promoting that the Martial Law years were the “Golden Years” in the Philippines. The truth is the country became “The Sick Man of Asia” because of abject poverty, widespread human rights violations, unabashed corruption in government, and the rise of Marcos cronies who financially benefited from martial rule.

He denies that he is accountable – when he is benefitting from it – for the unexplained wealth of the Marcos family that is estimated between US$5 billion to US$ 13 billion. The courts have determined their wealth to have been acquired through illicit means.

The most damning aspect of lying is that it affects the credibility of the person. It’s hard to trust a liar. Worse, it’s hard to trust a lying president if ever Bongbong wins the presidency.

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Leni Robredo in Bongbong’s election protest, he claimed that Robredo had already robbed him three years of what could have been his six-year term as vice-president.

Full of chutzpa, he accused Robredo of being a thief when it was the Marcos family who was found guilty by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1990 of hiding $356 million in Swiss banks through dubious foundations.

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

What arrogance! He thinks his family is above the law. He was old enough during the Martial Law years to know the atrocities committed by his father. Yet he continues to deny them or even acknowledge them.

Bongbong is also a cheat. The court found him guilty of nonpayment of taxes and failure to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.

Bongbong denies that he has an army of trolls. But the social media is full of disinformation networks that benefit Bongbong and, to no one’s surprise, continually pester Robredo with vitriolic attacks. Twitter has already suspended 30 of these networks for violation of its platform’s rules.

The thing about Bongbong that strikes me the most is his character – or lack of it. Here’s a man wanting to chart the future of the Philippines. One might think – as some people do – that, at the very least, he should be transparent.

Yet, like a dog with its tail in between its legs, he refuses to participate in presidential debates or fora, where he can be scrutinized and answer questions from independent journalists about his platform of government, political accomplishments, and his vision for the country,

Ironically, his proclivity to shy away from being asked tough questions is interpreted as indicative of his non-confrontational persona – a mark of a true leader, explain his followers, because he does not show “any retaliatory measure against his critics…” This is a branding style of marketing to project Bongbong as a person with a calm demeanor who is not vindictive.

The people deserve to know who Bongbong really is. Thus, the million dollar question is: Can he be trusted as a leader?

Leadership is about character, telling the truth, and doing the right thing. And Bongbong, sorry to say, fails miserably in these areas.

This much is clear – Bongbong is not a good role model. He is unfit to be president.


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