Photo by Romy Bugante, Senate PRIB
MANILA - "Friends, Romans, voters and people who will never be stupid forevermore. This is very strange that I am going to run under my People's Reform Party together with someone who does not belong to my party."
With these words, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago formally announced that she has filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for president in the 2016 elections.
Santiago explained that she is running with Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as her running mate. She said Marcos is currently in the north because of urgent political negotiations but will join her on Monday at the Bahay ng Alumni.
During a press conference after filing her COC, Santiago defended her decision as a then Regional Trial Court judge to free 50 students who were arrested by police during the martial law period. Martial law was imposed by Marcos' father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
She also that at first, she was one of many Filipinos who "did not mind the imposition of martial law" because it made public order more easy to accept. She also noted that martial law did not proceed as intended and that there were human rights abuses.
Asked if she agrees with Bongbong Marcos' statement that Filipinos are not concerned with human rights abuses during martial law but on their livelihoods now, she said she does not know if the statement is entirely accurate.
"It is still important to go over the details of martial law in the country so we will know what path we shall take for the millennials. I do not especially agree, and I beg the pardon of Mr. Marcos, that the details of martial law deserve to be buried and forgotten. No. On the contrary, the historians of tomorrow should make the study deeper so that we will know what lessons they held for our future," she added.
She also said the Marcoses, as a family, do not owe the Filipino people an apology for human rights abuses during the martial law period of President Ferdinand Marcos.
"I do not not think the Marcoses as a family owe us an apology. In the first place, it was not the case that President Marcos, the father, told all the Marcoses to come together and they all decided jointly to conduct certain activities that were later viewed with disinterest or distaste or even outright criticism by other Filipinos. That was not the case, they did not agree as a family to sit down and say: 'OK, let us do this. Let us set up curfews. Let us regulate the issuance of firearms and so on.'"
Santiago said that it was Marcos and his advisers who made policy decisions during martial law.
She also pointed out that she praised some of the "happy results" during martial law when she was a newspaper columnist during martial law, but that her columns became critical, sardonic and sarcastic as the martial law period continued.
Santiago also said she will not oppose proposals to bury former president Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani if that is the consensus.
"Why should we allow something de facto, such a fact, to disrupt the unity of the Filipino people? I myself have no objection. My own father is buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He was a guerrilla captain. I will not as an ordinary citizen hold it against the community if the consensus by that time is to bury one of our former presidents. Why should we let a dead man to control the actuations of the living and its new millennial generation? We should let go of the past."
Santiago earlier said at the sidelines of a Philippine Judges Association event that she and Marcos are running together in 2016.
"I think we mutually chose each other, our two camps. They happened to cross each other, the telephone lines happened to cross each other. It’s coincidental. One camp was calling the other camp," she told reporters.
Marcos also confirmed on Thursday that he has talked with Santiago's husband about a possible alliance in the 2016 polls.
"I can confirm that I had a lunch meeting with Sec. Jun Santiago yesterday. We discussed a wide range of subjects concerning the upcoming elections and spoke of possible alliances. We agreed to meet again soon," he said.
It will be the third time that Santiago will vie for the presidency. She placed 2nd in the 1992 elections, edged out by Fidel Ramos. She placed 7th in the 1998 elections which was handily won by Joseph Estrada.
Asked if the third time's the charm, she said that she said "yes" to her husband the third time he proposed.