ELECTIONS 2022: Marcos interview with CNN dominated by old talking points

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Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand
Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, speaks during his campaign rally in Manila, Philippines, April 23, 2022. REUTES/Lisa Marie David

Presidential hopeful Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. gets personal in the latest entry of CNN’s “In Private, Presidential Interviews” series on Tuesday (April 26). However, the son of the late dictator stuck to motherhood statements and familiar spiels when asked about his unity plans and his family’s legacy.

On what his first step in achieving unity would be, Marcos simply answered “prices and jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Prices, prices, prices.” Besides micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), he revisited his plans to prioritize the agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure sectors for economic recovery, which he already mentioned in a previous televised interview with the hotly controversial Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

Besides relying on expert feedback and private sectors in fulfilling his goals, Marcos hoped that he would be able to ease foreign investors’ worries by “doing things” without specifically hinting at what these steps would be. He said a similar point in a March episode of One PH and GoNegosyo’s KandidaTalks, saying that whoever wins the presidency must always work to “earn that trust.”

Unlike him, leadership under his main political rival and outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo is set to be more “market-friendly,” Nomura Global Research said in their report. A separate Bloomberg survey would also show that local investors and analysts favored a Robredo presidency over one headed by Marcos.

Ironically, Marcos later said that he will “strengthen” the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) by providing them more funds and staff members. He also added that “instead of directing themselves against the Marcoses only, kung meron akong corrupt na kamag-anak, eh ‘di lalabas ang pangalan niya, but not only us. Lahat.”

(Instead of directing themselves against the Marcoses only, if I have corrupt relatives, then their names go public, but not only us. All of them.)

Founded during the administration of ex-Pres. Corazon “Cory” Aquino, the PCGG’s primary goal is to recover the Marcoses’ and their cronies’ ill-gotten wealth. The Philippines’ Supreme Court (SC) ruled on July 15, 2003 that this wealth was worth about P25 billion in assets, with Marcos family members (including matriarch Imelda) verifying their existence.

Related to this, a one-page certification from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) showed that Marcos did not settle his penalties after being found guilty of tax evasion in 1995.

Just this March, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) confirmed that they demanded the Marcos clan to pay P203 billion worth of estate taxes last December 2021. Critics such as Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio feared that if Marcos wins, the unsettled estate taxes would be “gone forever.”

Sticking to his truth?

Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos (L) and her son Ferdinand
Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos (L) and her son Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr (R) wave to supporters during a political rally in Manila October 10, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

When asked about his alleged ties to a network of Internet trolls to boost his political image, Marcos dared his accusers to show concrete proof of such.

“Find me one. Show me one. One, just one. [...] Ang sinasabing trolls, thousands, hanapan mo ako ng isa. They don't exist (These alleged trolls, thousands, find me one. They don’t exist),” he challenged, affirming that his social presence was completely organic.

Marcos would later dance around the matter of criminalizing fake news, suggesting that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook parent company Meta, may find a way to control it due to social media’s “interactive and open source” nature..

“How do you control that? And why would you want to? [...] Siguro (Maybe) Zuckerberg can control it but I don't know if [the national government] can,” he believed.

Even if he denied links to any network of trolls or disinformation peddlers (as he also did in a February 7 interview with Korina Sanchez), fact-checking initiative Tsek.ph reported that Marcos himself benefited from their activities. In contrast, they declared Robredo to be disinformation’s “biggest victim.” Additionally, a report from The Washington Post implicated the Marcos camp in weaponizing TikTok and other platforms for an “online revisionism project.”

Despite having Atty. Vic Rodriguez, Marcos maintained that he does not need a spokesperson to address the media.

He also insisted that he was not difficult to approach in ambush interviews, even though there were times when this was not the case. While Rappler reporter Lian Buan was caught on video being pushed aside by a member of Marcos’ security detail, BBC News Philippines Correspondent Howard Johnson only got a chuckle upon asking if Marcos was hiding something.

Near the end of the interview, Marcos once again alluded to being “cheated” out of the 2016 elections, after Robredo won vice presidency. His case was unanimously junked by SC last 2021.

Through this interview, Marcos concluded that he will be a “unifying leader” once elected. He said that “the answer I can give you is I will work with every iota of my being to be a unifying leader.”

Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes-in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.

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