Presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos formally launched his campaign Tuesday at the world's largest area own by the Philippines' largest bloc-voting religious group, seeking the summit of his family's return to power.
Before thousands of supporters inside the Philippine Arena, Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, laid out their vision of unifying the country towards pandemic recovery. Vlogger Toni Gonzaga hosted the event.
"Ipagpatuloy natin ang ating nasimulan ngayon nang sa ganun ang Pilipinas ay pararatingin hindi sa ating pinanggalingan kundi ay papasikatin pa natin ang ating mahal na Pilipinas. Para tayo ay haharap sa buong mundo at sasabihin muli natin at isisigaw natin sa lahat 'Ako ay Pilipino, taas noo kahit kanino,'" Marcos said in his speech.
The tandem formally endorsed their senatorial slate, including Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Juan Miguel Zubiri, former defense chief Gilbert Teodoro, former Public Works Sec. Mark Villar and former Palace spokesperson Harry Roque.
Also part of the Marcos-Duterte ticket are Rep. Loren Legarda, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista, lawyer Larry Gadon, and Information and Communications Technology Sec. Gringo Honasan.
The only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. is running for president despite the opposition of several groups, including martial law survivors, who filed at least seven formal petitions before the Commission on Elections to block his bid.
At least two of these petitions have been dismissed, while the consolidated disqualification cases against him are awaiting resolution.
Retired Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon claimed that the decision on the disqualification cases were deliberately being delayed, resulting in a leadership crisis at the poll body. The ponente or writer of the decision denied such claim.
Marcos Jr. currently leads in many pre-election surveys both online and on the ground, but denied employing an army of trolls.
"I have never had a troll farm. I have never had a click army. I never boosted. Everything is organic," he said in an earlier interview with One News.
Martial law survivors noted how the Marcos family was using social media to rewrite history, with the late strongman's kin claiming that their rule was the golden age of the Philippines while refusing to recognize records of corruption and human rights violations.
Marcos Jr. challenged those who claim that his family was deliberately attempting to rewrite history to show proof, adding that his father's record will stand on its own even if he wins the presidential race.
"Anything that we have said, we can prove that this actually happened," he said in an earlier interview with Korina Sanchez-Roxas.
"Kahit na lahat ng ginawa ko ay maganda, hindi magbabago yung ginawa ng aking father. Kahit lahat ng ginawa ko ay pangit, hindi rin magbabago yung history ng father ko," he added.
Prior to running for president, Marcos Jr. was elected vice governor, governor and representative of his home province of Ilocos Norte, and senator from 2010 to 2016. He ran for vice president in 2016 only to be defeated by Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he will face again in the 2022 presidential race.