Philippine dictator's son says dad's legacy will help election bid

Ferdinand Marcos Jr takes a selfie with supporters on October 7, 2015. The son of infamous President Marcos Sr, Marcos Jr says voters are not concerned about his family's legacy.

MANILA - The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos said Wednesday his father's legacy would help rather than hamper his own bid for the vice presidency.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr said his surname was the "greatest blessing", his first public comments since announcing Monday he would run as an independent next year.

Marcos Sr was accused of massive human rights abuses during his two decades in power ended by a famous 1986 military-backed "people power" revolution.

But his son, popularly known as "Bongbong", said voters would not be swayed by allegations against his father.

"If you talk to people, they are not concerned about that," he told reporters.

Filipinos are more worried about poverty, crime and lack of basic infrastructure, which had made commuting in the capital a daily misery for millions, he said.

A "lack of leadership" under President Benigno Aquino, whose parents led the opposition against the elder Marcos, had exacerbated these woes, he said.

"This is what people are worried about and this is what I will address," the 58-year-old senator said.

"What happened in 1986 happened already. These things have already been decided." The Marcos family was forced into exile in Hawaii in 1986 and Marcos Sr died there in 1989.

The government accuses the family of stealing US$10 billion (S$14 billion) from public coffers, while activists have recorded at least 882 people who went missing during the period of martial law declared by the dictator.

Aquino in 2013 signed a landmark law compensating thousands of human rights victims of the Marcos regime, many of whom were tortured, raped or detained by the dictator's security forces.

"We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state's recognition of their sufferings," he said at the time.

Before being elected to the Senate in 2010, Marcos Jr served as congressman and governor of his father's home province.

He said his surname had only bolstered his political comeback.

"I am the luckiest person that I know and being a Marcos is part of that... I have never felt it to be a burden. I have only felt it to be an advantage," he said.

The most recent poll from one of the country's major research firms showed Marcos running third in the vice presidential race, with 13 per cent saying they would vote for him.

His bid for office is widely seen as a stepping stone to an eventual presidential bid, and rights groups have pledged ferocious campaigns against him.

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