Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter has chosen a daughter of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos as her running mate for the May election.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Ceballos announced that she has picked Imee Marcos, a businesswoman who reportedly served as Marcos’ hand-picked successor when her father was in power, to run with her in the May presidential race.
She spoke Friday before a crowd of thousands of supporters in the capital, Manila. Imee Marcos was also present at the event.
The 42-year-old Imee Marcos rose from a teenage maid to become a millionaire businesswoman and lawmaker. She has been a vociferous critic of the administration’s anti-drug war that has left at least 6,000 people dead.
Sara Duterte Ceballos, 43, is one of the nation’s most prominent social activists and is backed by the country’s largest opposition party.
Duterte, who was appointed defense secretary when his father was president, has built a political support base across the country, focusing on a crime-fighting campaign in the slums. He has presented himself as a reformer, stressing a new partnership with the U.S. and the country’s other longtime ally, China. He also says he is committed to ending poverty in the impoverished nation and increasing the government’s focus on traditional areas, which have seen little attention from the top government.
In the meantime, opponent Rodrigo Duterte, who is running on the alliance of the party backed by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and that is also loyal to Ferdinand Marcos, has also picked a relative. He named his son, also known as Bongbong, as his running mate.
Bongbong has been under close scrutiny as a U.S. investigator has suggested that he may have been a “police informant” and that he planted the bomb that killed his father in 1986. His lawyer has dismissed the claims as “nonsense.”
Both Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and daughter Sara have denied any wrongdoing and say they had clean records as children of the Marcos family.
Elections officials have delayed their release of updated candidate filings and campaign financing reports as they work to resolve irregularities reported in earlier filings. An independent panel, led by Manila judge Emmanuel Pangilinan, also said it is seeking to settle a war of words with the electoral office over the two delayed reports.
Duterte has promised to bring back the long outlawed drugs, but says he would fight the traffickers and users along side law enforcement agencies, which he said would result in fewer deaths, including innocent ones.
The son and daughter of both a dictator and a siren all lead surprisingly successful political careers in the Philippines, but they have not shared the limelight with one another. Sara Duterte Ceballos says they don’t share political or personal interests.
“As a member of the family, you do what the president says. It’s hereditary,” she told The Associated Press last week. “You don’t consider it your choice.”
In her endorsement speech, Sara Duterte Ceballos said her and Marcos’ upbringings are “just different because I was born before the rule of law,” while Imee Marcos was brought up by her grandparents after her father and her mother divorced.
But Marcos has said she is not proud to be the daughter of a dictator, adding that she would have to lie to people to escape her dark past. She says she wants to work hard for her constituents, particularly in rural areas, and take advantage of her parents’ help in the capital.
“I lived in a world of lies until I grew up. The truth cannot be hidden forever,” she told AP in an interview last week. “I’m no longer afraid because now I know that I have lived a lie.”