10 May 2022, The Tablet

Ferdinand Marcos Jr triumphs in Philippines

The result means that the Marcos clan, ousted by a people’s revolt 36 years ago, is back in power.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr triumphs in Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos Jr (R), the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator, waves to voters at a polling station in Batac, Ilocos Norte Province.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, known as “Bongbong”, the son and namesake of the country's late dictator, is poised to become the next president of the Philippines on 30 June for a six-year period. He amassed a huge lead over his nearest rival, the liberal human rights lawyer and incumbent vice-president Leni Robredo, in elections on 9 May. Marcos Jr, 64, succeeds controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, with Duterte’s daughter Sara as the likely vice-president.

The result means that the Marcos clan, ousted by a people’s revolt 36 years ago, is back in power. Marcos Jr’s mother, Imelda Marcos, 92), joined him to vote last Monday. Robredo, 57, came from behind to narrowly beat Marcos Jr in the 2016 vice-presidential race but hopes that she could do it again were dashed as votes were counted.

On 4 May around 1,200 bishops and priests in the Philippines publicly endorsed Robredo, but the Catholic Church generally simply appealed to voters to use their conscience in casting their ballots. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said: “We are not using and we should not use the pulpit to name names; it should be enough for us to mention the qualities of good candidates.”    

However, opposition candidates were up against a well-funded social media misinformation campaign targeting a mostly young electorate with no memory of the violent dictatorship and corrupt rule of Marcos Sr. In February, Catholic bishops, with longer memories, accused supporters of Marcos Jr of historical revisionism by portraying the martial law period of his father as a “golden era” in Philippine history. There was no mention that Marcos Sr, who died in 1989, and his wife Imelda plundered an estimated £8.1bn from the Philippines’ coffers. Online campaigns vilified Robredo with misogynistic messages. She had vowed to tackle corruption, with her campaign slogan being: “Honest government, a better life for all.” The Marcos Jr slogan was: “Together we shall rise again.”

On polling day, there was some evidence of vote buying and Robredo supporters complained of voting irregularities, which included machines being unable to accept ballots or print receipts. In Caloocan, Manila, many voters were forced to leave their ballots with election monitors at polling stations without seeing them inserted into voting machines.

The new president was attending Worth, a Benedictine boarding school in West Sussex, when his father declared martial law in 1972, and later studied at the University of Oxford. He left Oxford in 1978 before completing his degree, although for years he claimed that he had graduated with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.


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