MANILA - Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos denied Monday that she cut a deal with President Rodrigo Duterte to fund his campaign during the 2016 election in exchange for allowing her father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Speaking to reporters, Marcos denied Duterte's statement that she gave money to his presidential campaign in exchange for her father's burial at the Libingan.
"Palabiro naman si Presidente Duterte, alam naman natin yan eh at ah hindi naman ah kinakailangan na literal. Subalit sa kabila nito talagang nanalo sya sa Ilocos Norte, sinuportahan natin siya. Walang kapalit, wala namang mga deal na katulad nyan. Sa pulitika, hindi ako naniniwala sa mga deal eh," she said.
(President Duterte likes to make jokes, we all know that. We don't have to take it literally. Despite all this, he really won in Ilocos Norte. We supported him without anything in exchange. There was no deal like that. In politics, I don't believe in making deals.)
Asked if she gave contributions or monetary support to Duterte during the campaign, she answered no.
Duterte earlier said in an October 4 speech that no one supported his presidential campaign except for the Ilocos Norte governor.
"Wala akong pera, si Imee pa ang nagbigay. Sabi niya inutang daw niya. Imee supported me," he said.
(I didn't have any money money. It was Imee who gave. She said she had to borrow the money. Imee supported me.)
The President added that his father, Vicente, once served as a Cabinet member of the late president.
Duterte's decision to allow the burial of the Marcos patriarch at the Libingan ng mga Bayani has divided the nation, with those opposing the burial asking the Supreme Court to block it.
On Monday, victims of human rights abuses during martial law said President Duterte's decision to allow Marcos' burial in the Libingan is payback for the campaign contributions he received from the former president's family.
Etta Rosales, a victim of martial law atrocities and petitioner in the case, said Duterte's acceptance of money from the eldest daughter of the dictator--a transaction that according to official records was not even declared in his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) submitted to the Commission on Elections --casts in an entirely new light the repeated assertions made by administration officials that the President's decision to support the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani was "in fulfillment of a campaign promise."
"It now appears that Marcos' burial at the Libingan is the payback for the payment he admitted receiving from Ms. Marcos. And that the campaign promise was not one made generally to the electorate, but specifically to Imee and the Marcos family, in exchange for monetary support for his presidential bid," said Rosales, a former chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights.
She also refused to accept the governor's statement that Duterte's statement of accepting campaign contributions from her is just a joke.
"Inamin naman ni Imee nung nagsabi si Presidente Rodrigo Duterte na thank you for the contribution, nag-smile si Imee very sweetly at inamin naman nya," Rosales said.
(Imee admitted it. When President Rodrigo Duterte said 'thank you for the contribution', Imee smiled very sweetly and admitted it.)
She expressed disappointment on what she called "transactional politics" being implemented by the Duterte administration.
She described Duterte's decision to bury Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani as loose change.
"Burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a betrayal of all the struggles of the Filipino people against dictatorship. 75,000, on record, suffered under Marcos," she said.
Rosales is among petitioners against the burial of the former president at Libingan ng nga Bayani.
During martial law, she was a former teacher at Jose Rizal College, who was arrested, brought to a warehouse in Pasig city, where she was stripped naked and tortured, forced to undergo electric shock, strangulation, candle burns, rape and Russian roulette. Her torturers only stopped when she pretended to be dying.
The petitioners filed a manifestation at the Supreme Court last Friday asking the magistrates that the account be taken into consideration on their deliberation on the issue, set on Tuesday afternoon.
In the interview, the Ilocos Norte governor admitted the Marcoses and Dutertes have a long relationship, pointing out Duterte's statement that his father served under Marcos' Cabinet.
She clarified that there was no money involved in their support.
"Yung mga monetary at kung anu-ano pang support eh hindi naman totoo yan. Ang akin lang full support ako, spiritually, morally, politically, kumpletos recados sapagkat naniniwala kami na sya lang ang makapagbibigay ng pagbabago sa Pilipinas at sya lang nagpupumiglas, nagpupumilit, talagang trying hard na magkaisa ang buong Pilipino," she said.
(The monetary and all sorts of support are not true. I gave my full support, spiritually, morally, politically, kumpletos recados, because I believe he is the only one who can bring change to the Philippines. He is the only one fighting, forcing, trying hard to bring unity to all Filipinos.)
Governor Marcos' younger brother, former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., ran but lost in the vice-president race in the May 2016 elections. Bongbong ran, not with Duterte, but as the running mate of the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
For now, the lady Governor of Ilocos Norte said they will only hold on to prayers that the High Court will rule in favor of burying the former president at Libingan ng mga Bayani. She said they will abide by whatever the court's decision may be.
"Ayaw naming magpabigat or magbigay ng problema, ang amin lang sa lahat ng supporters namin, todo-dasal kami ngayon hanggang bukas, hanggang ah makatawid ng botohan" said Marcos.
Victims of martial law on Tuesday will also gather at Bantayog ng mga Bayani, at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, to hear Mass and gather in prayer.
From there, they will monitor the events at the Supreme Court.
Aida Santos-Maranan tried to hold back her tears when asked on what she intends to do if the Supreme Court decides in favor of the Marcoses.
Maranan is a victim of martial law atrocities. She was detained, tortured and raped in 1976-1977 by the Military Intelligence Security Group in Camp Crame.
"If we have fought martial law well and survived, in my heart of hearts I believe we will do more if we lose this. That's not the end of the game for me. I'm 65. I was incarcerated when I was 24. Tingin ko po kaya ko pa (I believe I will endure)," said Maranan, wiping her tears.