MANILA — The son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said on Wednesday he was unafraid and would not withdraw from the 2022 elections, despite a group's bid to block his presidential run over a 2-decade-old conviction for tax evasion.
In a 57-page petition filed with the Commission on Elections, the group representing political detainees, human rights and medical organizations argued that Marcos is not eligible to run for any public office as he is a "convicted criminal."
"Hindi ako natatakot, hindi ako aatras, hindi ako magwi-withdraw. Patuloy lahat ang aking gagawin," Marcos said on the petition in an interview with RMN Palawan.
"Hindi ako mag-slide down. Patuloy lang ang aking kandidatura," he continued.
(I am not afraid, I will not back down, I will not withdraw. All that I will do would continue. I will not slide down. My candidacy will go on.)
His planned candidacy has angered victims of his father Ferdinand Marcos' strongman rule of almost 2 decades, which ended when he was overthrown in 1986 by a popular revolt
The dictatorial regime was marked by violence, human rights violations, repression of free speech and the plunder of state coffers, among others. The Philippine government has yet to fully recover the Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth.
"He did not only fail to file his income tax return once, but for four consecutive years, continuously violating the laws that he swore to protect and uphold. This shows moral depravity and abuse of power," the petition said.
A trial court convicted the younger Marcos of tax evasion in 1995 for failing to file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals in 1997.
Since his family's return from exile after fleeing the "people power" uprising, Marcos has been elected Ilocos Norte governor, congressman, and in 2010, as a senator.
He ran for vice president in 2016, but lost by a small margin in a contest he claimed was rigged. He filed a case in the Supreme Court to overturn the results but the justices ruled against him, cementing the victory of Vice President Leni Robredo, now his opponent for the presidency.
Marcos said the petition against him was "not unexpected."
"Siguro kasama na rin 'yan sa pulitika lalo na iyong aming mga kalaban ay imbes na humarap sa eleksyon, kasi siguro natatakot sila sa numero, idi-disqualify na lang ako," he said.
(Perhaps that is part of politics, especially since our rivals, instead of facing the election, maybe because they are afraid of the numbers, would just try to disqualify me.)
Marcos came second to Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, in the latest opinion poll of preferred presidential candidates, suggesting he may have a shot at the presidency.
In announcing his plan to run, Marcos, 64, offered "unifying" leadership to help the country heal from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crises.
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters