ARGUING in favor of keeping family dynasties alive and kicking in Philippine politics, the son and namesake of the deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos says he wants to “serve”, sister Imee wants to “serve”, his son Sandro also wants to “serve” and is “very qualified” to run for Congress.
It seems the word “serve” has been used and abused by politicians especially during election season.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “serve”: perform duties or services for another person or an organization. In the context of politics, to serve is more of “giving” of one’s self for the greater good, offering one’s time, effort, even resources and denying one’s own needs and wants to fulfill the solemn vow of “serving” the people.
Public office is actually a position of “service” — elected officials earn meager salaries and are held up to a higher standard of ethics and morality because public office is accorded with public trust in governing the country and managing hard earned taxpayers’ money that is used to finance all government spending to provide service to the people. Public servants are also role models of abiding by and defending the Constitution and the rule of law.
This is where I am having difficulty swallowing and digesting Bongbong Marcos’ claim that he is running for President to “serve’, especially in light of his record of breaking the law and serving his own needs above the needs of the people he professes to want to serve.
Bongbong Marcos was convicted in 1995 of failing to file his income tax returns for several years while he was supposedly “serving” the people of Ilocos Norte as their Vice-Governor, and later as Governor. Bongbong broke the law enacted by his own father Ferdinand when he was the country’s president.
On top of Bongbong’s income tax delinquency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Philippine Commision on Good Governance (PCGG) confirmed that the Marcos Family owes the Philippines a whopping P23 Billion in estate tax (inheritance tax) that has ballooned to P 203 Billion, including interests and penalties, for failure to pay their obligation to the country in violation of Philippine laws.
BIR chief Caesar Dulay said “the BIR did send a written demand to the Marcos heirs on December 2, 2021 regarding their tax liabilities,”disputing Bongbong Marcos’ claims that this case was still pending and that this report was fake news.
Bongbong is fully aware of these obligations. This man who wants to be President is “not only aware of his family’s stolen wealth but has also been a key administrator of the Marcos estate since his father, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, died in exile” in 1989, according to Ruben Carranza, a former commissioner of the PCGG..
“That P203 billion, if you do not collect that in five years, you do not even send a demand letter that prescribes, hindi mo na makolekta yan (you can no longer collect that),” Carpio warned in a report by the Inquirer.
Add to that P125 Billion in ill-gotten wealth. “That’s really the problem. If Bongbong Marcos becomes president, I do not expect the P125 billion to be recovered anymore. He’ll probably abolish the PCGG,” Carpio added. True enough, Bongbong said he was ‘open” to “recreating” the PCGG so it would not be “anti-Marcos” as he alleged it was created post-People Power Revolution of 1986. Read that as “goodbye P125 Billion dollars”.
The P328 billion worth of “ill-gotten” wealth and unpaid taxes from the Marcos family may no longer be recovered if former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. gets elected as president, Carpio warned.
THAT is a LOT of taxpayers’ money that is supposed to go toward services for the needs of the Filipino people especially during these challenging times. Just how much is that money?
In President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2022 budget, the Department of Education got P36.8 billion. The Department of Health was given P188.3 billion.
Rappler reported that “to provide support for the most vulnerable sectors of society who took a hit from the pandemic’s impact on the economy, P5 billion has been allocated for the government’s social amelioration program while P25.02 billion is going to social pension for indigent senior citizens”
Furthermore, the budget provided for the program called “Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (under the social welfare department) gets P39.87 billion. The conditional cash transfer program for poor households, called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, was given P107.67 billion”.
DO YOU SEE how much the Marcoses willfully stole from us and deprived the Filipino people of the much-needed help we need by choosing not to pay their debts and taxes? These are the basic services needed by the poor Filipinos for education, health, amelioration services alone in one year?
How many lives could have been saved? How many more children could have been sent to college to fulfill their dreams of saving their families from poverty? How many parents could have chosen to stay in the Philippines instead of leaving their children so they could work abroad to support their families? How many farmers and fishermen and small businesses could have been helped to recover from their losses?
And this Bongbong Marcos wants to be President to “serve”? I read from social media: If Bongbong really wanted to serve, he and his family could have paid their taxes and obligation in a timely manner! But they chose to wait and wait and wait until these debts prescribed. Poor Filipinos got conned by the Marcos family!
WHY is Bongbong running for President? Reuters reported: “Political analysts say at 64, his run could be the family’s last chance to return to the Presidential Palace. Mother Imelda, a formidable force behind the Marcos political machinery, is 92”.
The Marcos family hired the services of Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm “to erase the 1986 (people power) revolution, and to restore the glory and fully rehabilitate the image of the Marcos regime.” This in included inundating us with the toxicity of fake news and troll farms.
“His push for the presidency has been aided by what political analysts say has been a decades-long public relations effort to alter public perception of his family and supporters. Critics accuse the Marcoses of attempting to rewrite history,” Reuters reported.
This is also why Bongbong Marcos is shunning the debates. He complained the same questions are being asked all the time. Certainly he did not want to be transparent and accountable, nor did he want to apologize for his and his family’s transgressions against the Filipino people. They invested a lot of money in brainwashing the Filipino people, after all.
“Perception is real. Truth is not,” Imelda Marcos said in an interview with Lauren Greenfield in the docu-movie “The Kingmaker”. The Marcos mantra.
Money. Power. Marcos Family brand. And Sandro, Bongbong’s son, is next in line to continue “serving”, unless we, the Filipino people, break this Marcos curse with the power of our vote.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989. She was a news anchor, TV host and radio commentator and public service host for ABS- CBN and DZMM. She is now working on her advocacies independently, serving the Filipino audience using different media platforms. You may contact her through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos. Also on Twitter, Instagram: Gel Santos Relos