MANILA (AFP) – “Winter has not come” for disgraced Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his eldest daughter defiantly declared, referencing the hit television show ‘Game of Thrones’ as she defended her father’s legacy.
Marcos fled into exile in the US after a popular revolt that ended his 20-year rule marked by allegations of massive corruption and rampant human rights violations.
But his eldest daughter Imee Marcos, launching a lecture series on her late father’s legacy on Friday, recalled his words as the former first family landed in Hawaii aboard US military aircraft in February 1986.
“When we were all in tears and everyone said, ‘The end is nigh, it is finished, we are dead and doomed’, he said, ‘No, children. To my family and everyone, history is not done with me yet.’”
Imee Marcos, who is governor of the family’s northern domain of Ilocos Norte, laced her speech with references to the ‘Game of Thrones’ saga, which tells the bloodsoaked story of noble families vying for the Iron Throne.
“Indeed, if the North remembers, winter has not come yet for the legacy of FM,” she said, using her father’s initials and apparently comparing her family to the northern House Stark, whose upright and honourable head Eddard Stark was executed by the vicious young King Joffrey.
Marcos however was accused of embezzling billions of dollars from state coffers, with anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International in 2004 naming him the second most corrupt leader of all time, behind Indonesian dictator Suharto.
The dictator also oversaw widespread human rights abuses to maintain his control of the country and enable his plundering, with thousands of people killed and tortured, previous Philippine governments said.
However, no member of the Marcos clan has ever gone to prison.
His heirs made a stunning political comeback only a few years after the former president’s death in Honolulu in 1989.
His son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, only narrowly lost the vice-presidential election last year, while his widow Imelda Marcos sits in the House of Representatives.
President Rodrigo Duterte, a family friend, says Marcos was the country’s best-ever president, and stunned the nation last November by allowing Marcos’ remains to be buried at the national “Heroes’ Cemetery” despite a widespread outcry.
The Marcos rehabilitation continued when on Thursday Duterte declared the late dictator’s centennial anniversary on September 11 a public holiday in Ilocos Norte.
Duterte has also said he was considering a Marcos family proposal to hand over some of its wealth to the government, later suggesting that they may ask for immunity from prosecution in return.
In her speech, Imee Marcos said many Filipinos were “puzzled, bereft and lost by the animosity, the diatribe, the invective and the abuse that we hear” about her father.
Video footage of the speech was uploaded to Facebook for the week-long Marcos centennial events, which continue tomorrow with a private mass to be attended by family members and friends at the Marcos tomb in Manila.