Following his late dictator father’s steps, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) pushes through presidential aspirations amidst his infamous family and personal background.
Prior to becoming a presidential hopeful, he was a former senator and governor of Ilocos Norte. In the 2016 elections, he lost the vice presidential race to Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, his contender for the same spot in the upcoming national elections.
As a senator, he authored 52 bills, with only one being enacted into law, namely the Senate Bill 1186, which eventually turned into Republic Act 10632. This law aimed to postpone the 2013 Sangguniang Kabataan elections. He also co-authored four senate bills, including the RA 10645 or “An Act Providing for the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens.”
Now, the younger Marcos is geared toward “improving the country’s pandemic response and continuing the Duterte administration’s anti-insurgency campaign as well as its bloody campaign against illegal drugs but with a focus on prevention, education, and rehabilitation,” as reported by Vote Pilipinas.
His path towards seeking the presidency was nonetheless surrounded by controversies that included him being an Oxford dropout, their riches being tagged as “ill-gotten wealth” by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, and his prior tax conviction.
Still, he holds a stable spot in the upper tier of the popular vote among the presidential candidates. He has already topped multiple national presidential surveys and other independent surveys, including Pulse Asia’s March voter preference survey.
In the said National elections 2022 voter survey, BBM remained the presidential frontrunner with a 56 percent rating despite a massive drop in support among the Gen Z from February’s 71 percent to 57 percent.
However, he only placed second in the BlueVote Survey in-campus survey of the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) voting population released by the University Research Council, falling behind another crowd favorite, Vice President Leni Robredo.
An AdDu professor from the Political Science Department, who chose not to be named, cited three reasons for this phenomenon, namely: (1) many social media posts have been created about him and his family, which made him very visible to many Filipinos who are known to spend a lot of time on social media, (2) the content of these social media posts projects BBM as if his family has been wrongly accused of crimes and they are only victims of a “biased” history, and (3) there are also postings which are intended to disinform the public about the governance of his late father.
“On the other hand, it is also important to note here that BBM does not win in all surveys. Survey results in almost all colleges and universities reveal that BBM is far behind another presidential candidate,” he stated.
Numerous organizations, such as Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), the partylist where Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte hails from, Tingog Partylist, and fraternities had announced their support to Marcos.
His bid has also convened influential families’ party lists, namely the Former Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada.
The Political Science Department professor interpreted this gathering as them wanting to “retain their political power for the interests of their families.”
“They allied together to protect themselves from possibly facing legal suits filed or to be filed against them because of their excesses e.g., graft and corruption, human rights violations, to silence their critics, and for their crimes to be lost to posterity,” he said.
Although he is more known in the north and was even dubbed “The Tiger of the North,” he still bears a stronghold in Mindanao because of his running mate’s influence, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Carrying his father’s shadow
In a Mindanao Consortium of Ateneos online conference in October 2021, AdDU President Fr. Joel Tabora stated that BBM is indeed a “dictator’s son,” noting how his father’s father’s orders were considered decrees.
Following that line of thought, the main criticism of BBM’s campaign is on how they allegedly capitalize on historical revisionism, portraying Marcos’s fascist regime as the “golden age” of the country and bolstering its campaign with his father’s achievements.
The AdDU professor affirmed that “negative historical revisionism on the reign of his late father fuels the popularity of BBM over all other candidates.”
“Among the many negative historical revisionisms about the Martial Law years, I think what stands out is that the Marcoses never stole the people’s money; they are nowhere in jail and thus are not guilty of corruption,” he shared.
“However, many of our government agencies and even foreign institutions like the Swiss banks have found the billion-dollar assets of the Marcoses here and abroad which the family could not prove of their legal acquisition,” he added.
Others have claimed that the Marcos scion has no other achievements other than his father’s but should take responsibility for the damage by his father to the Filipino people. At the same time, his supporters explain that his son should not carry the grievances against his father.
203B estate tax liability
The Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner (BIR) Caesar Dulay confirmed to have sent a letter to the Marcos heirs, Imelda Marcos and BBM, demanding them to pay their estate taxes liability amounting to P203 billion on December 2, 2021.
In a report by Manila Bulletin, the Former Supreme Court Associate and lead convenor of coalition 1Sambayan Justice Antonio Carpio explained that under the Tax Code and the Revenue Regulations, “the co-administrators of the Marcos Estate, Imelda Marcos and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., as well as the other heirs of Marcos Sr., are expressly made liable to pay the estate tax in the original amount of P23.3 billion, which has now ballooned to over P203 billion.”
He pointed out that as per Section 91(D) of the Tax Code, “the estate tax imposed by Section 84 shall be paid by the executor or administrator before delivery to any beneficiary of his distributive share of the estate.”
Although there is a possibility that BBM will obtain ‘immunity from suit’ if he becomes the president, Former BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares stated that the case would persist.
“Sakali kung maging presidente si [Marcos Jr.], may immunity from suit ho ‘yong president. Hindi mo pwedeng demandahin, pero pag tiningnan mo ‘yong batas, marami ho kayong pwedeng demandahin… ‘Yong other co-administrators ng estate, maliban kay [Marcos Jr.], puwede ‘yong ibang tao, kung gusto nyo ho. Puwedeng kasuhan,” Jacinto-Henares said in an interview with ABS-CBN TeleRadyo.
Before Dulay verified the Marcos’ inheritors’ estate tax dues, the Former Supreme Court Justice informed that a possible disqualification might surface against BBM due to his tax evasion conviction.
Carpio stated that BBM was found guilty of tax evasion, which is punishable by perpetual disqualification from public office under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), in a report by INQUIRER.net.
Meanwhile, BBM’s camp argues that the case on estate tax liabilities is still pending in court.
In an official statement, BBM’s Chief of Staff and Spokesperson Atty. Victor Rodriguez accused Carpio, their ‘political adversary,’ of promoting “falsehood, lies, hatred and black propaganda.”
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III nevertheless declared that the government stays adamant about collecting the unpaid estate taxes from the Marcoses, noting that the BIR is “studying this issue very carefully,” in a report by Philippine News Agency.
Out of all presidential debates, BBM has only attended the SMNI Presidential Debate 2022, hosted by Sonshine Media Network International owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, an endorser of the candidate.
Despite his frequent absence, his standing in the presidential surveys remained consistent, even making him trending by his supporters on Twitter to the extent of name-calling other presidentiables.
Some have claimed that BBM uses online trolls to drive his campaign (e.g., the spread of fake news, black propaganda against other candidates, etc.), hence posing an implication to the Philippine elections.
The AdDU professor tagged these alleged online trolls as the “worst virus on social media,” where they feed the netizens with made-up stories about BBM and his family, including fabricating documents and splicing videos. He also observed that these trolls practice “hate speech against other candidates and attack supporters of other presidential candidates.”
In fact, Atenews has become one of the victims of the said “trolls,” where a publication material posted by the organization was altered by Team BBM 2022, aiming to spread misinformation.
“One implication of these online trolls to the May 2022 national election is their content will misguide the voters in choosing the candidate who benefits the most from these fake-news peddlers,” he told Atenews.
Nearing the election proper, the BBM-Sara tandem has been silent on these claims and is focused on visiting multiple cities for their political rallies with the help of celebrities, such as Andrew E. and Toni Gonzaga.
The article was previously published in the Election Issue 2022 of Atenews. Read it here: tinyurl.com/AtenewsElex2022