MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday denied that opposition forces she leads had a hand in a bid to block rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s presidential run in the 2022 elections.
Marcos spokesman Atty. Vic Rodriguez has blamed "yellow wannabe political assassins" for the petition which argued that Marcos is not eligible to run for any public office due to his 2-decade-old conviction for tax evasion.
Yellow is associated with the Liberal Party led by Robredo and the people power uprising that toppled the dictatorship of Marcos' father and namesake.
"It doesn’t make sense," Robredo said of insinuated ties between the opposition and the bid to cancel Marcos' candidacy.
"Kung gusto namin siyang ipa-disqualify, dapat sana noong laban pa namin ng VP. Saka kung ang purpose ng disqualification para maalis siya sa contest na ‘to, hindi naman kailangan. Naglaban na kami noong 2016, nanalo naman kami nang walang ganyan," she said in a press conference in Negros Occidental.
(If want to disqualify him, we would have done it during the VP race. And if the purpose of the disqualification is to remove him from this contest, it's unnecessary. We already faced off in 2016, we won without that.)
Marcos lost in the 2016 vice presidential elections, which 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 Robredo, now his opponent for the presidency.
His planned presidential 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," read the petition by political detainees, human rights and medical organizations.
A local 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.
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 in an interview with RMN Palawan on Wednesday.
(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.)
"Hindi ako natatakot, hindi ako aatras, hindi ako magwi-withdraw. Patuloy lahat ang aking gagawin," Marcos added. "Hindi ako mag-slide down. Patuloy lang ang aking kandidatura."
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