MANILA - Former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales is in the presidential race, promising to reform the Philippines' agricultural policies and remind voters about that happened during regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
This year's election has become "more important" because there seems to be efforts to bring the Marcos family back to power, said Gonzales, who was part of the peace negotiating panel of the Cory Aquino administration.
"Muli tayong babalik sa sambayanan at muli nating ipapaliwanag na kung bakit nung 1986 ay hinusgahan natin ay ang pamilya Marcos," he said in a recent virtual press conference.
(We will return to the public and we will explain again why the nation judged the Marcos family in 1986.)
"Sa panahon ng kampaniya, ipakita na natin ano ang kamalian nila. 'Yung mga aktibistang buhay pa, kumilos tayo, pasukin natin ang puso ng ating mga kabataan. Sabihin natin na mag-iingat kayo sa inyong pinaniniwalaan," he said.
(During the campaign period, let us explain their faults. To the activists who are still alive, let us move, let us woo the hearts of our youth. Let us tell them to be careful of the things they believe in.)
Gonzales admitted that he "cannot match" the machinery of frontrunner former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. , but added that attempts to bury martial law atrocities can be countered by "giving more information" about what transpired during the dictatorship.
"'Yung mga fake news, marami daw talaga yan. Hindi ko masyado naiintindihan yung sistema na 'yan," Gonzales said.
(There's a lot of fake news. I don't really understand that system.)
"Mahirap pagsabihan yung ibang kandidato kaya ang gagawin ko, diretso ako sa bayan. Bayan naman ang naghusga noong panahon na 'yun kaya dapat bayan ulit ang mag-husga," he said.
(It's hard to call out candidates so I'll go straight to the nation. It was the nation that judged them before so it is also the nation that must judge them now.)
Gonzales is running under the Philippine Democratic Socialist Party (PDSP), which he founded in 1973.
The same party backed Cory Aquino's presidential bid in the 1986 snap elections against the then-incumbent President Marcos.
Aside from holding the Marcos family accountable, Gonzales said he hopes to overhaul the Department of Agriculture (DA) should he bag the 2022 presidency.
"Padadamihin natin ang pagkain. Ang DA pakikilusin natin ng todo," Gonzales said.
(We will improve our food production. DA will be made to perform comprehensively.)
"Hindi ako papayag na napakaraming empleyado ng DA, nakaupo lang sa mesa sa Maynila. Lalabas sila sa bukirin," he said.
(DA should not have so many employees who just sit on their desks in Manila. They should go to the farms.)
Under a Gonzales administration, rice will be treated as a "strategic crop," and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will be mandated to prioritize the spawning of milkfish and other water-based food sources.
"Kinakailangan na yung Bureau of Fisheries ayusin yung pag-aano ng semilya ng bangus at iba pang isda at ibuhos natin sa dagat para dumami ang harvest natin," he said.
When asked why he sought the presidency instead of settling for a lower elective post such as in Congress or in local governments, the former defense chief under the Gloria Arroyo administration said he does not have much time to climb the political ladder.
"Kung ako ay 50 anyos, siguro tatakbo ako ng congressman o governor e 75-years old na ako," he said.
"Hindi na ko puwede magpalipat lipat ng puwesto," he said.
In a December 2021 Pulse Asia survey, Gonzales garnered 0 percent of votes from respondents who joined the poll.
Despite this, Gonzales believes he still has a chance of winning the 2022 elections.
"Hindi ako nag -isa. Ang kasama ko sa pagkampaniya are all the social democrats of this country," he said.
(I'm not alone in this. All the social democrats in the country are with me campaigning.)
"Kakausapin ko ang mga miyembro ng PDSP... at ipaliliwanag sa taong bayan hindi si Bert Gonzales, pero ang ating hinaharap na kinabukasan," he said. "[Na] baka kailangan pakialaman na natin ulit ang pagseserbisyo sa bayan."
(I will talk to the members of PDSP...and we will explain to the people not [about] Bert Gonzales but about our future. It's time that we get involved again in serving the country.)