CNN Philippines : PH envoy Romualdez sees Marcos leading with 'malasakit,' unity with non-supporters

By CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez sees president-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. leading with "malasakit," as he seeks to unite Filipinos under his administration, including those who did not vote for him.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Romualdez described how he thinks his second cousin and close friend will lead the country for the next six years, having been elected by 31 million Filipinos to succeed outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I think he is highly motivated to do well mainly because 31 million people voted him in office, and the other one of course is what happened to his father. He would like to prove that it’s more of, ‘we’re not what people pictured us to be,'" Romualdez said.

"As a matter of fact, I told him, 'you're not revising history, you're actually writing history by being president,'" he added, recalling a previous conversation with the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Apart from having amassed billions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth, the Marcos regime is responsible for over 11,000 people who fell victim to summary execution, torture, and other human rights violations, according to the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act. Amnesty International estimates some 70,000 were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured.

Following his proclamation, the younger Marcos is now set to retake Malacañang, once held by his father.

Romualdez only has praises for the president-elect when asked what he thinks are the latter's strength as a leader.

"I can tell you that in all my years I had known him he has a very good heart, really. He may be irritated or angry at one time but the very next day it's as if nothing happened," he said. "He's very forgiving in one sense."

Romualdez said that even if Marcos acknowledges having been born into privilege and having set foot in Malacañang at a very young age, "he had this sort of malasakit (concern) with people."

As for the critics and non-supporters, Romualdez said they have six years to see for themselves whether Marcos will do well. But he expressed confidence that the latter will work doubly hard than he did when he wooed voters during the campaign.

Romualdez added he does not look at political color, having worked with former presidents Joseph Estrada, Fidel Ramos, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, and incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte. And he sees the incoming president doing the same thing.

"I think that this president, president-elect Marcos Jr., looks at it that way," he added. "In fact, I have just heard, he is really looking for people who did not vote for him, people who are what they call of the other colors. He is looking for somebody who can actually work in his Cabinet."

Marcos recently picked Arsenio Balicasan as the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, which he once headed under the late former president Aquino. Several names for other Cabinet positions have also been announced by his camp over the past days.

"For those who have already made up their mind because of the past, that's something that cannot be changed," Romualdez said. "At the end of the day I always say Pilipino pa rin tayo (we're still Filipinos), we have to look at it from that point of view, a bigger picture."