, MANILA, Dec 16 – The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos announced Wednesday he was aiming to become president of the Southeast Asian nation and insisted his family had nothing to be ashamed of.
The 52-year-old namesake of his father said he had never viewed his name as a curse, but rather "an extreme advantage" that would propel him up the national stage.
"I would like to take this political career that I have embarked upon as far as it can go. The ultimate position is to be president," Marcos Jnr told a foreign correspondents\’ forum in a deep baritone voice similar to his father\’s.
Marcos Jnr has been a member of the lower house representing his family\’s stronghold of Ilocos Norte province since 2007.
He will run for a Senate position on an opposition ticket in next year\’s elections, and if successful would have a high-profile platform from which to run for president in the 2016 race.
His mother, flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos, and sister Imee, are also seeking public office next year as they seek to maintain family control of Ilocos Norte.
Marcos Jnr, nicknamed Bongbong, said the three of them were seeking public office to show "that the solid north still exists", referring to the family\’s power in Ilocos Norte where his father was born.
Marcos Snr was president of the Philippines from 1966 to 1986, much of it as a dictator whose brutal rule was marked by massive rights abuses and the disappearance of thousands of opposition activists.
The Marcos family is believed to have plundered government coffers of up to 10 billion dollars during its rule, sending the once prosperous country of 92 million into poverty from which it has never recovered.
A 1986 "People Power" revolt toppled Marcos Snr from power, sending his family into exile in Hawaii, where the strongman died three years later.
Imelda Marcos and her children were subsequently allowed to return home, but none of them have been convicted of any offence.
Marcos Jnr refused to answer questions directly about the family\’s fabled wealth, other than to stress his declared net worth of about 60 million pesos (1.3 million dollars) was built up through hard work.
He also maintained his family had never done anything wrong, and that his father\’s legacy would one day be vindicated by history.
"The only thing I inherited from my parents is a good name. Everything else has been taken away," he said.
Adding to the intrigue of the potential Marcos dynasty, the current favourite to win next year\’s presidential election is Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
He is the son of Corazon Aquino, a housewife whose opposition leader husband was assassinated by Marcos forces in 1983 and who then succeeded the dictator after leading the "People Power" revolution.
But Marcos Jnr said he was willing to back Aquino in the Senate if "Noynoy" became president next year.
"Politics makes strange bedfellows," the Oxford and Wharton-educated Marcos Jnr remarked.
Marcos said his 17 years as a public servant — he has also been Ilocos Norte governor — would serve him well in the Senate because he had seen "how things work from the ground level".
Marcos said he would continue to push for passage of a controversial population control law he had championed in the lower house, as well as work to allocate 50 percent of the national budget to education.
The politically influential Catholic church, which was instrumental in toppling his father, has been blocking the population control measure, threatening to ex-communicate its proponents.
But he brushed off the church threat.
"The last time I went to mass, they still gave me communion," Marcos said.