MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's reaction after the confirmation of the tandem of his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. in the 2022 elections was heartbreaking for the latter's camp, Sen. Imee Marcos said Tuesday.
"Frankly, we were heartbroken by the almost violent reaction of the President," Imee said in an interview in their home province of Ilocos Norte.
"We are not the enemy. That is very, very clear. We’ve been allies, we’ve been supporters, and it goes way back," she said.
Duterte, who was endorsing the presidential bid of his longtime aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, described the son and namesake of the late dictator a spoiled and weak leader. (Go announced on Tuesday he is withdrawing from the presidential race.)
"Hindi ako naninira ng tao. Talagang weak kasi spoiled child, only son. Of course he can talk, he delivers English articulate[ly]. Ang aral kasi, kung saan-saan sa labas. Pero kung sabihin mo na may crisis, he’s a weak leader. At saka may bagahe siya," Duterte said in a recorded speech that aired Nov. 19.
(I do not malign anyone. He is really weak because he was a spoiled child and only son. Of course, he can talk, he delivers English articulately because he studied in several places abroad. But if you say there is a crisis, he’s a weak leader. And he has baggage.)
He issued the remarks even as the Marcos and Duterte families were known to be friendly, as the President's father, Vicente, served in the Cabinet of the late former chief executive.
In 2016, Duterte allowed the late dictator's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite heavy protests. Two year later, he said he would step down as President if Marcos Jr. wins his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo. (Marcos lost his protest.)
Duterte also blamed the Marcos camp on why his daughter is running only for vice president. He questioned the development in light of Duterte-Carpio topping past surveys for preferred presidential bets in 2022.
"I'm sure yung pagtakbo ni Sara ay desisyon nila Bongbong yun. Nagtataka ako, sabi ko, siya ang number one sa survey, kung bakit siya pumayag na tatakbo lang bise. Siya yung mataas ang rating eh," he said in an interview that was posted on YouTube on Nov. 14.
(I'm sure Sara's candidacy is a decision of Bongbong's group. I'm wondering why she would only run for vice president when she's number one in the surveys.)
Several weeks before the filing of candidacies for the May 9, 2022 elections, Imee said a Sara-Bongbong tandem in the 2022 elections would be a "marriage made in heaven", with her brother being "honored" to be the vice president of Duterte-Carpio.
In the Nov. 14 interview, Duterte categorically said he is not supporting the presidential bid of Marcos Jr. His daughter also disclosed that Duterte's PDP-Laban rejected a request to back the Bongbong-Sara tandem in 2022.
"The President's father was a distinguished member of my dad's first Cabinet and, really, we have been very, very grateful to the President for the many, many blessings he has brought upon not only Ilocos Norte but the entire Philippines," Imee said on Tuesday.
She said they are hoping "any resentment or shock caused by the team-up" of her brother and Duterte-Carpio "would subside."
"Please understand and together let's carry on," she said.
Petitions to disqualify, cancel his candidacy and declare him a nuisance in the 2022 polls have been filed against Marcos Jr. at the Comelec.
There is no statement as of this writing from Duterte in reaction to Imee's remarks.
ON BONG GO QUITTING 2022 POLLS
Meanwhile, following Go's announcement to back out of next year's presidential race, Imee said, "For us, any candidate who withdraws or is having second thoughts about running shouldn’t worry."
"As for withdrawing one's candidacy, I'd like to tell all candidates that my dad, our Apo Lakay, never taught us to get mad, least of all get even. Revenge is God's, not ours," she said.
"With all the brickbats hurled at us, through all the rivalry, you've seen that we haven't struck back. Kill them with kindness, my mom says," she added.
According to her, their family does not hold any grudge and stay angry.
The Marcos patriarch was in power from 1965 until 1986, of which nine years were officially under martial rule marred by corruption and human rights abuses.
The family has either dismissed or downplayed the allegations against them.
— With reports from Job Manahan and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News