The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Nation & World

May 10, 2013

Seeking re-election, Imelda extends Marcos dynasty

MARCOS, Philippines —  Twenty-seven years after a public revolt ousted her dictator husband, Imelda Marcos is the Philippines' ultimate political survivor: She dazzled voters with her bouffant hairstyle, oversized jewelry and big talk on the campaign trial this week bidding to keep her seat in Congress.

Ferdinand Marcos' widow is widely expected to win in Monday's congressional polls. Approaching 84, she is nearing the final chapter of a tumultuous political life in which she once astounded the world by amassing a mammoth shoe collection as first lady of the impoverished country. Never showing any remorse for her past, she has against all odds succeeded in orchestrating the rebirth of a political dynasty tainted by allegations of corruption and abuse during her husband's rule.

"I'm running for re-election," Marcos, clad in her trademark party gown, diamond and pearls, proclaimed before hundreds of villagers in Paoay town in northern Ilocos Norte province.

Despite her reputation for extravagance, including expensive shopping trips and lavish beautification projects in a nation where a third of about 94 million live on $1 a day, Marcos twice ran unsuccessfully for president and won seats in the House following her return from exile.

She is currently campaigning for a second of a maximum three terms to represent Ilocos Norte, a vote-rich agricultural region where many are fiercely loyal to the late dictator because of the money he poured into development.

After lingering until midnight at the town fiesta, Marcos barnstormed farming villages the following morning in the sweltering summer heat, showing off several "mothering centers" she had built to provide health services and livelihood training to poor villagers.

She cradled newborn babies before a tangle of photographers and cameramen in the centers, each displaying a painting of a young Imelda embracing a child at the entrance. "We care and love you all," reads a sign at the door.

Although she said she still brimmed with energy, her face was puffy and a crew of nurses trailed her to check her blood sugar levels. Bodyguards stood close by when she alighted from her van or the stairs. Talks with journalists strayed into the legacy she will leave behind, and she mentioned that she had decided her epitaph would read: "Here lies love."

Marcos said she would not step down as long as she had energy.

"If God will bless me with good health, as long as I'm alive and I'm strong, I'm going to give it all to the Filipino people," she said.

When she eventually bows out of politics, her children will carry on. Her eldest daughter, Imee, a former member of Congress, is seeking re-election as governor of Ilocos Norte, her campaign posters pasted side by side with her mother's.

The Marcoses are among the most prominent of at least 250 political dynasties or families that have monopolized power across the Philippines. Such dynasties are prohibited under the 1987 constitution, but Congress — long controlled by members of powerful clans targeted by the constitutional ban — has failed to pass the law needed to define and enforce the provision.

The current president, Benigno Aquino III, is part of one such dynasty.

Critics worry that a single family's stranglehold on different levels of government could stymie checks against abuses and corruption. A widely cited example is the 2009 massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers, in an ambush blamed on rivalry between powerful clans in southern Maguindanao province.

But Imelda Marcos argued that candidates, whether coming from one family or not, could only rise to power if they were given a mandate by voters.

"If some families have a record of great service ... let it be," she said. "In the end, it's up to the people."

Political analyst Ramon Casiple said that powerful clans have been known to resort to electoral fraud, intimidation, patronage and bribery to preserve their hold on power.

One of the Ilocos Norte towns visited by Imelda is called Marcos, named after the late dictator's father, who served as a congressman in the 1920s. Mayor Salvador Pillos said that residents were forever grateful to him for building sturdy roads and other pet projects.

"We love the Marcoses," Pillos said.

The dictator's son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Jr., won a seat in the upper chamber in 2010, the highest nationally elected post the family has captured since the 1986 uprising. That has raised the possibility the young Marcos may run for president — something he has not ruled out. His mother said it would be up to destiny, but acknowledged that she savored the thought.

"I know my son and I'm proud of him and I would be prouder still if he will be like his father — a great president," she said.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez of SELDA, a group of former political prisoners under Marcos' dictatorship, said the prospect of another Marcos rising to the presidency was alarming but possible. She said it was crucial to educate young Filipinos, who never saw the atrocities committed after Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law in 1972.

In Ilocos Norte's Batac town, the Marcoses have opened public galleries filled with mementoes and pictures showcasing the late president's achievements. There is no mention of the 1986 uprising.

In one of galleries, called the World Peace Center, streamers bearing the images of Imelda Marcos and her son adorn the driveway leading to the entrance. Inside, walls and tables are crammed with portraits of the Marcos couple meeting world leaders, including Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-Tung and Moammar Gadhafi.

Above the door hangs a sign that might as well pertain to the Marcoses' stunning political longevity: "Paradise Regained Unto Infinity."

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • news_ukraineprotests.jpg Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions

    Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_target.jpg Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target's computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry

     An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday.

    April 17, 2014

  • 3 protesters killed in attack on Ukrainian base

    The turmoil in Ukraine dominated the European landscape Thursday, as three protesters were killed in a clash in southern Ukraine, high-level talks were held in Geneva and Vladimir Putin weighed in on his neighbor's future for hours from Moscow.

    April 17, 2014

  • news_marathonsecurity.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_diabetescomplications.jpg Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

    In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Fears rise for missing in South Korea ferry sinking

    Fears rose Thursday for the fate of 289 passengers still missing more than 24 hours after their ferry flipped onto its side and filled with water off the southern coast of South Korea.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ukraineprotests.jpg Pro-Russian gunmen make inroads in eastern Ukraine

    The well-armed, Moscow-backed insurgency sowing chaos in eastern Ukraine scored a new victory Wednesday, seizing armored vehicles and weapons from underequipped government forces, then rolling through two cities to a hero’s welcome.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_detroitsunset.jpg Detroit still needs $350M from state lawmakers

    Pressure was building Wednesday for Michigan lawmakers to commit $350 million to Detroit pensions, a day after the city reached tentative agreements with pension funds and a retiree group to reduce payouts.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_malaysiaplanesearch.jpg Sub makes second dive to search for Malaysian plane

    As a robotic submarine dived into the ocean to look for lost Flight 370, angry Chinese relatives stormed out of a teleconference meeting Wednesday to protest the Malaysian government for not addressing them in person.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium