'For survival': Marcos, Jr admits going into politics to 'defend' family after exile

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2023 01:49 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2023 02:17 PM

Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. greets supporters after taking his oath as the 17th President of the Philippines at the National Museum in Manila on June 30, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. greets supporters after taking his oath as the 17th President of the Philippines at the National Museum in Manila on June 30, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Marcos: Somebody had to enter politics

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday (Davos time) said his ambition to be in politics hinged on his family's survival and legacy, noting that it is something he had to take upon himself after his namesake and dictator father's death. 

Speaking to World Economic Forum (WEF) president Børge Brende, Marcos said he was determined to avoid politics when he was still young after seeing the "sacrifices" his father, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr., did for them. 

"My father has done everything in politics and the life is difficult and I could see the sacrifices that they had to make, that he had to make to get to do a good job and I said, maybe that’s not what I’m meant to be doing," Marcos told Brende in Davos, Switzerland. 

After his family's exile in Hawaii though, things changed, he said. 

The Marcos patriarch and his family fled to the US state after the People Power Revolution in 1986. In previous interviews, the younger Marcos remembered his family had "nothing" while staying there, relying only on the help of their fellow Ilocanos. 

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After their emergence from exile, Marcos told Brende "we [had] to defend ourselves politically, somebody had to enter politics and be in the political arena." 

"So that at least, not only the legacy of my father but even our own survival required that somebody go into politics," he said. "And so once I was entrenched in the political arena, I said, well --- if we’re going to do this, you better do it well."

When asked if he wanted to become President back then, Marcos said he just had to do his "best." 

"Every lieutenant wants to be a general, right? Every [clerk] wants to be the CEO. So I’m saying if I’m going to be in politics, let’s do the best we can and take it as far as we can take it," he said. 

"So we just never stop. But you know, this is your career now, so work hard at it and do it well. Do it the best that you can."

The ouster of Marcos, Sr. stemmed from his over 2-decade rule in the Philippines marked by human rights abuses, plunder of government wealth, and clamp down on press freedom.

Despite having little to no money, Marcos, Jr. — in previous interviews — said he still flew home in first class in 1991 with the help of a friend, saying he was "too embarrassed" to return in a coach. 

He won as lawmaker of Ilocos Norte's 2nd district in 1992, just a year after arriving in the country following their 5-year exile. 

"When I was still at the airport, I immediately called my mother... 'mom, come home. It's fine, it's safe," he said on documentary "The Kingmaker." 

His family's rise to power, however, took decades in the making, a political analyst said. Some observers noted how the Marcoses rebuilt their image with the help of social media, driven by troll armies and influencers that disregarded the family's excesses.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) — an agency tasked to go after what the Marcos family plundered — has recovered more than P170 billion of the Marcos family's estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth.

The Marcos family has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Matriarch Imelda has been found guilty of several counts of graft in lower courts, but has won most of her appeals in higher courts. None of the members of the former first family has been imprisoned. 

But the Philippine Supreme Court ruled in 2003, 2012 and 2017 that Ferdinand Marcos and his family were guilty of large-scale fraud.

— with a report from Agence France-Presse