MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party has nominated Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as its presidential bet for the upcoming 2022 national elections.
KBL is the political party founded by Bongbong's father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Ilocos Sur Provincial Board Member and KBL National President Efren Rafanan said the Marcoses "were misjudged."
The Marcos patriarch was overthrown in the 1986 "People Power" uprising, following a brutal 1970s martial law era that killed thousands and allowed the plunder of billions of dollars of wealth. The family denies any wrongdoing but Marcos matriarch Imelda has already been found guilty of several counts of graft.
Not a single member of the Marcos family attended the KBL event. Instead, Bongbong in a recorded speech thanked those who attended the convention.
In a separate online forum, he said while he was still seeking alliances for the 2022 elections, he was "very, very close to announcing" which national post he would seek.
"I thank them (KBL) for that expression of support and trust they have bestowed," he said in the online Friday News Forum.
"I don't know that you can interpret it as an acceptance [of the nomination]," he added.
Pressed on whether or not he would run for president, he said, "I will answer you when the time comes. You cannot rush these things."
"There's been a very big change in the way we conduct our politics… Right now, everybody is keeping things close to their chest, myself included," said Marcos.
"There’s no advantage to hurrying such an important decision… I fully intend to use all available time that is given me to make a decision," he continued.
Marcos' nomination as presidential bet comes just 3 days after the 49th anniversary of his father's martial law declaration.
EARLY OPPOSITION TO MARCOS RUN
Martial law opposition leaders and scions have denounced Marcos' possible candidacy.
The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) dubbed it "a mad attempt" for his family to "restore their power and rule on a country pillaged and violated" during military rule, "further evade their accountability for their crimes, and to promote the historical lies that they have perpetuated."
"It is also a form of direct support for Duterte’s continuation of his murderous rule, with the Marcoses serving as among his closest allies throughout his administration ridden with countless allegations of extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, corruption and anti-people governance, and subservience to foreign interests," said CARMMA.
Duterte previously allowed the hero's burial of the Marcos patriarch and praised the late dictator's leadership.
Opposition coalition 1Sambayan urged Filipinos to block the Marcos family's potential return to Malacañang in 2022.
"Hangga’t hindi umaamin ang mga Marcos na nagkamali sila, kailangan natin silang habulin. Hindi natin pwedeng paupuin ang mga Marcos," said lawyer Tañada, grandson of martial law opposition figure Lorenzo Tañada.
(For as long as the Marcoses do not admit their wrongs, we need to go after them. We cannot let the Marcoses win.)
1Sambayan will push for accountability "for the victimization that happened because of Martial Law," said Aksyon Demokratiko executive board member Samira Gutoc.
“The truth sometimes is manipulated. Panghawakan natin ang katotohanan na iyon at huwag hayaang manalo 'yung nais takpan ang katotohanan,” added Akbayan President Rafaela David.
(Let us hold on to that truth and do not let those who want to cover it up win.)
The Marcoses should recognize abuses during martial law first if they want to erase the past, said lawyer and activist Neri Colmenares, who was a teenager when he was tortured by state forces during this period.
"Only power-hungry families like the Marcoses are desperate for the Palace because they know that history has judged them with justice on its mind. They will do what it takes, even reinforce its ties with the Duterte family to secure the Presidency," Colmenares said.
"A win for Bongbong will only be a win for the Marcoses and even the Duterte family as it is a win for tyranny and dynasty," he added.
Bongbong, 64, is a former governor, congressman, and senator.
In 2009, Marcos transferred to the Nacionalista Party led by then-presidential aspirant Sen. Manuel Villar.
Aside from KBL, the Labor Party of the Philippines, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, and Kapisanan ng Pamilyang Pilipino have urged Marcos to run for president. For now, he is associated with the Nacionalista Party.
Alongside Marcos, KBL also declared their support for staunch supporter Larry Gadon's senatorial bid.
A controversial lawyer, Gadon also organized the KBL event. Since its inception, KBL has lost in every election except in 1981, when the older Marcos won the presidential election.
— With reports from Jacque Manabat ABS-CBN News; Reuters