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Sunday, February 8, 1998 Published at 12:09 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Imelda Marcos tries again for presidency
image: [ Imelda Marcos: famous for having 2,000 pairs of shoes ]
Imelda Marcos: famous for having 2,000 pairs of shoes

Imelda Marcos has begun her campaign to become president of the Philippines, despite the 12-year jail term hanging over her.

The former first lady is free on bail pending her final appeal after the Filipino Supreme Court upheld her 1993 sentence for corruption.

Mrs Marcos, 68, faces numerous other court charges related to the estimated $5bn her husband plundered from the country during the 20 years he was its leader.

But the woman most famous for her many pairs of shoes said it was the plight of the country's poor that inspired her second presidential candidacy.

"My decision was triggered by the economic crisis we now experience," she said in a statement.

"I want to remove our people from our economic crisis by using the wealth of the late president Ferdinand E Marcos.

"This is the reason why I have decided to run, so that I can manage the Marcos wealth properly for the direct benefit of the people."

In 1992, Mrs Marcos came fifth among seven candidates after returning to the Philippines from exile.

[ image: Mrs Marcos prays with her supporters]
Mrs Marcos prays with her supporters
After confirming her intention to try again on Sunday, she made a public and theatrical prayer in the Manila Cathedral before 500 of her supporters who chanted her name.

Prostrate before the altar, Mrs Marcos wore a red suit, a blue scarf, a glittering brooch, a gold bracelet and clutched a string of prayer beads.

"She always does that in critical moments of her life," one of the faithful said.

But the legacy of Mrs Marcos' years in the the spotlight, which ended with a popular revolt against her late husband in 1986, is not yet ended.

As well as the Supreme Court verdict against her 11 days ago, the Swiss Supreme Court last month instructed national banks to repay $500m stored in them by President Marcos to the Philippine Government.

The money will be available to fund various claims against the former administration, including one by 10,000 people who say they were tortured.

Despite her promise to use her husband's riches to help the Philippines, Mrs Marcos, who was elected to Congress in 1995, has previously declared herself the poorest member of the House of Representatives.

She gave no indication of how she might use her money if she is not successful in her presidential attempt or goes to prison, both of which are likely.

The front-runner to replace President Fidel Ramos is the current Vice-President Joseph Estrada.

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