PAST presidents made deals with the Marcos family in varying degrees. The family’s ultimate goal: to restore full recognition of his legacy. And in those different deals and circumstances these leaders approved the Marcos requests, in great measure for their own political protection since they recognized that Marcos forces were still something to contend with. This is especially true because of the vast financial resources at their disposal.
Cory Aquino had rejected the offer of the dying Ferdinand Marcos made through her Vice President Salvador Laurel that considerable wealth will be given to the Filipino people if he was allowed home. The catch was, of course, that the money would go to a foundation that will disburse it. And Cory and her inner circle saw through the ruse: a medium for their return to power.
Later, after Marcos’ death in 1989, the compassionate Cory agreed to let Imelda and the family back into the country, partly for leverage in the hidden wealth cases since she would be returning to face graft and tax evasion charges here. It was also for political cover for her family and Hacienda Luisita as Cory’s term was coming to an end. Imelda returned in 1991 and eventually beat all graft and tax charges in the country.
Cory, however, never waivered on banning the return of Marcos’ body and granting a state burial in Manila.
In 1991 Bongbong ran for senator for the 1992 elections but lost, despite his “rockstar” appeal and following. Cory and her yellow army saw to that, pulled no punches in making sure voters remembered why they were ousted in the first place
In that same election Imelda ran for president in a field that included Fidel V. Ramos and Miriam Defensor Santiago. Though she was running fifth, it was a tight race between Ramos and Santiago.
A key player in the Ramos campaign was a former Marcos man and political operator, Ronaldo Puno. Among the deals made by the Ramos campaign was to allow Marcos’ body home. The strength of the Marcos family was obvious to them as Bongbong Marcos, who ran in that election for congressman of Ilocos Norte, had started their reinstatement in their political stronghold. Their support for Ramos was among the factors that helped in the slight victory over Santiago.
In 1993, Ramos fulfilled his promise and lifted the ban on Marcos’ body being brought home. But he put his foot down on the burial and allowed the body to be flown directly to Ilocos Norte. Not wanting to force the issue and take their victories one small step at a time, the Marcos family did as was told.
Imelda won a congressional seat in 1995 representing Leyte. It was a landslide victory.
In the 1998 presidential elections they again attempted to leverage their political power for the Marcos agenda. Receptive was their old ally, Joseph Estrada. While Imelda again ran against him, she later withdrew. The claim was she did so because of her poor showing in the polls. In reality, it was to keep that leverage by committing their forces to his campaign. Estrada won, only to be unceremoniously booted out before any promise to the Marcoses could be fulfilled. Again, Puno was part of that equation.
Meanwhile Bongbong and Imee won as Ilocos Norte governor and congresswoman, respectively.
Estrada’s VP, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over. She kept her cool, not rocking the boat with any of the factions – Cory and her yellow army who helped get Estrada out, the Marcoses who kept out of the fray, civil society which was given the illusion they had a voice in governance. This balance served her well when she ran again for a regular six year term, and all the while she dealt with the Marcoses by keeping them at bay.
In 2009, Noynoy decided to run for president in the 2010 elections. The election fever for him was hot as he was coming out from a meteoric rise in popularity after the death of his mother Cory. Having convinced his Liberal Party’s frontrunner Mar Roxas to step aside, Noynoy went on to make a pact with the Marcoses to ensure that he won’t be bothered by his greatest vulnerability: Hacienda Luisita.
The issue with Luisita was not just that the Cojuangco family had blocked every effort to distribute it to the farmers. This was a leftist issue that they could easily deal with, for by this time the relevance of the organized Left was shaky at best.
The danger point for the Noynoy campaign was that he was involved with the bloody Hacienda Luisita Massacre, an issue which the Marcoses could easily and effectively exploit with their resources.
Noynoy and Imee shared a unique closeness with each other, having been colleagues in the House of Representatives for years. Through her a secret deal was made with the Bongbong campaign to keep the HL Massacre under wraps in his campaign in exchange for a favorable handling of the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Noynoy won as president, Bongbong as senator. Imee made governor of Ilocos Norte while Imelda won as congresswoman of the same province.
To the consternation of the Marcos family, Noynoy failed to deliver on his promise.
In the 2016 elections the Marcoses were again being tapped for support by the various presidential contenders. The Marcoses played coy, but put it out there in no uncertain terms that the support would be forthcoming only if clear and public support for the Marcos burial is made. Mar and family tried to weasel their way into a Marcos via their cousin Lisa Araneta Marcos, Bongbong’s wife. But that was an epic fail. Only Rodrigo Duterte made that clear and public promise in his campaign.
And the rest, as they say, is history