President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said his ambition to enter politics turned on his family’s survival and legacy, and that it was something he had to take upon himself after his namesake father’s death.
Speaking to World Economic Forum (WEF) president Børge Brende, Mr. 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,” he said in Davos, Switzerland where he is attending the five-day WEF.
On a separate topic, the President also told Brende that maritime disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) “keeps him up at night” but that the Philippines was committed to peace despite China’s territorial claims in the vital waterway.
The Philippines watches as a “bystander” whenever tensions rise in the sea region, Mr. Marcos said.
“Keeps you up at night, keeps you up in the day, keeps you up most of the time. It’s very dynamic. It’s constantly in flux. So, you have to pay attention to it and to make sure that you are at least aware of the present situation so that you’re able to respond properly. In terms of let’s say cross-trade tensions, we are at the very frontline,” the President said.
“When the ships come out, the Chinese and their Coast Guard vessels, the Americans answer, we are watching as bystanders. If something goes wrong here, we are going to suffer,” he added.
But Mr. Marcos also sees “no point” for the Philippines to beef up its armory amid the surrounding political tensions, as he said the country is “not in an economic situation” to bolster its defense unlike big economies like the United States and China.
It will just “end badly” for those involved and not involved if the solution to conflicts will be military, the President said.
“There is no point the Philippines building up its armory… more importantly perhaps is our abiding belief that the solutions are not going to be military,” Mr. Marcos said.
“If a similar situation would arise in the region, then it would be actually —I would say it would be disastrous for the rest of the world as well, not only for the region but for the rest of the world,” he added.
The President cited the interconnectivity of economies worldwide following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, seen most especially in the conflict’s impact on food security.
The President explained that the country is committed to peaceful resolution of disputes in the SCS. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
China and the Philippines are at odds over the South China Sea, with Beijing claiming sovereignty over almost the entire area despite an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos admitted things changed after his family’s exile to Hawaii after the People Power Revolution in 1986.
In previous interviews, the President remembered his family had “nothing” while staying there, relying only on the help of their fellow Ilocanos.
After their return 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, Mr. 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.”
He later won as a congressman of Ilocos Norte’s 2nd district in 1992, just a year after arriving in the country following their five-year exile. He later became the province’s governor and senator before losing a bid for the vice presidency.