MANILA - Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos on Tuesday filed before the Commission on Elections her certificate of candidacy for the 2019 midterm polls.
The eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is running for senator under the Nacionalista Party, which forged an alliance with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte's Hugpong ng Pagbabago regional political party.
This is Marcos' first senatorial bid. Her brother Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. had served in the chamber from 2010 to 2016, and lost his vice presidential bid in the last national elections. He has a pending electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
A Pulse Asia survey for September ranked Marcos 8th among probable candidates likely to win in the midterm elections, up 6 spots from 14th place in the June survey.
Marcos is already in her final term as governor of her home province Ilocos Norte. Prior to this, she also served as a lawmaker representing her province's 2nd district for 9 years.
As long-time governor, Marcos was not spared from controversies. A 2017 Commission on Audit report flagged seemingly fabricated bid documents as well doubtful purchases and deliveries of supplies made by the Ilocos Norte government.
The Marcos-led provincial government said it was probing the alleged fabrication of documents, an issue also tackled by an inquiry at the House of Representatives in 2017.
The House panel on good government also probed the alleged misuse of Ilocos Norte's shares from excise taxes on locally manufactured Virginia-type cigarettes.
The provincial government allegedly used P66.45 million in a "highly irregular purchase of motor vehicles made through cash advances" without public bidding.
Marcos admitted before the House that a purchase of 70 mini-trucks by the provincial government did not undergo the bidding process but stressed that no government funds were lost.
IMEE DURING MARTIAL LAW
During her father's strongman rule, Marcos also served different positions including head of the now-defunct Kabataang Barangay.
Marcos' appointment to the youth organization in 1977 was questioned by Archimedes Trajano, then a 21-year-old student leader of the Mapua Institute of Technology, during a forum.
After a month, his body was discovered on a street after an alleged dormitory fight. Witnesses later said they last saw Trajano being forcibly removed from the forum by Marcos' security escorts.
Marcos recently drew flak for hosting a reunion with her Kabataang Barangay colleagues inside the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
UP Diliman's student council called the event an insult to the thousands dead and missing during the Marcos regime, an era marked with human rights violations and other abuses.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government estimates that $10 billion were stolen from public coffers during the Marcos regime. Only P170 billion has so far been recovered.
A political comeback for the Marcoses
While Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorial rule is considered one of the darkest chapters in Philippine history, his family has continued to command loyal following, making a political comeback after their exile in Hawaii.
The family had fled there after the Marcos regime was toppled by the EDSA "People Power" revolt in 1986.
Aside from Imee, her mom Imelda is also in politics, currently serving her final term in Congress, while brother Bongbong is fighting for the vice presidential post in his pending protest against Robredo at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
President Rodrigo Duterte, whose father Vicente served in Ferdinand Marcos' pre-martial law cabinet, also provided a friendlier environment for the Marcoses.
In November 2016, he allowed the burial of the late strongman at the Libingan ng mga Bayani—a move that triggered huge protests.
Duterte previously said Imee Marcos was among those who backed his presidential bid in 2016, but the Ilocos Norte governor said she did not contribute money to the campaign.
Last January, Malacañang confirmed that a Marcos loyalist lawyer submitted a draft proposal for the return of a part of the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth to the government, but that no deal has been reached.
Bongbong Marcos denied the document, saying the lawyer, Oliver Lozano, does not represent any member of his family or even the estate of his father.
The public, especially martial law victims and their families, have long been calling for an apology from the family.
But Imee Marcos ignored these calls, saying the matter was already a non-issue. She instead told her critics to "move on" even while some of the martial law victims have yet to get justice.