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Uncertainty in the Philippines: who is ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, the son of a dictator who can succeed Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippines faces a scenario of political uncertainty after the presidential elections this Monday. It is that the landslide victory for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcosson of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, marks the return to power of a corrupt dynasty that ruled brutally for more than 20 years.

To these antecedents, which generate alarm among the sectors that suffered from the Marcoses between 1965 and 1986, we must also add the unknowns that exist around the real policies of the future president, who has avoided ruling on the most crucial issues that affect the country.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known as “Bongbong,” will almost certainly become the next president after garnering almost 31 million votes –more than 50% of the support–, according to the provisional count released by the Electoral Commission (Comelec).

Imelda Marcos and her son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, look at the embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos after his death in 1989. Photo: REUTERS

It could take several weeks for the final count to be completed and the official results to be released.

While waiting for the final results, Marcos Jr. thanked the “thousands of workers, volunteers and political leaders” for having believed in his “message of unity” in a video posted on his Facebook profile.

The victory seems irreversible. “Bongbong” Marcos would have obtained more than double the support of the candidate Leni Robredo, who with more than 14 million has brought together the opposition to the dictator’s son in a candidacy that mobilized the progressive electorate with massive and colorful marches.

Robredo, 58, has not officially accepted the defeat and has stated in a statement that “a movement has been born and will not disappear with the final count” of the votes.

A supporter of Ferdinand "bongbong" Marcos celebrates his electoral victory.  photo: REUTERS

A supporter of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos celebrates his electoral victory. photo: REUTERS

Hundreds of demonstrators protested this Tuesday denouncing fraud at the gates of the Electoral Commission for the Irregularities and incidents that occurred in the voting centers during the day on Monday, where around 1,800 voting machines failed, according to data from Comelec.

A dynasty crossed by corruption

If there are no surprises and everything goes according to logic, Marcos Jr. will take office as president on June 30 and will move to the Malacañán palace. His return would come 36 years after he fled from there by helicopter with his parents and sisters after a popular revolution that caused the fall of the dictatorship.

The family’s flight to the United States uncovered a huge amount of luxury items (among other things, they had a collection of more than 3,000 shoes), the visible face of a corruption scheme that took between 5,000 and 10,000 million dollars of public fundsaccording to the estimation of the Presidential Commission for Good Governance (PCGC).

Several experts agree that the priority objective of the Marcos, whose members have also won positions of political relevance in congress and at the provincial level, is maintain and recover the wealth they illicitly amassed during the “marital dictatorship” of Ferdinand and Imelda.

The former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who tried unsuccessfully to become president of the country.  Photo: EFE

The former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who tried unsuccessfully to become president of the country. Photo: EFE

“Bongbong”, convicted of tax evasion in 1995, has always remained loyal to his family and has defended his innocence, despite the fact that there are at least 40 court cases investigating his fortune. Imelda herself was sentenced to 42 years in prison for corruption in 2018, although she has not gone to prison as the resolution on her appeal is awaited.

Marcos Jr., who has kept a low profile throughout the campaign and has avoided interviews and questions that could compromise his speech, has not condemned the crimes that occurred during his father’s dictatorship.

Fear among the victims of the Marcos family

The return of the Marcos generates Fear among victims of Martial Law imposed between 1972 and 1981 by the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who they observe “frightened” as his son, “Bongbong”, is one step away from confirming his electoral victory.

“I am horrified. Turbulent years are coming now, but we have to continue the fight for truth and memory,” Bonifacio Ilagan, 74, who was arrested and tortured during Martial Law, and whose sister disappeared and was allegedly killed by the police.

Ferdinand "bongbong" Marcos Jr. has not condemned the crimes committed by his father's dictatorship.  Photo: REUTERS

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has not condemned the crimes committed by his father’s dictatorship. Photo: REUTERS

During this decade of terror established by Marcos, who ruled the country from 1965 until he was overthrown by a peaceful revolution in 1986, some 3,257 people were killed extrajudicially and some 35,000 tortured, according to data from the organization Amnesty International.

Disinformation and historical revisionism

This electoral campaign will be remembered for the accusations of historical revisionism poured by the propaganda machinery of the Marcos, especially through Facebook and other social networks.

In the “story” offered by “Bongbong”, the kleptocratic, despotic and oppressive dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in the Philippines has become for many the myth of a compassionate couplepatriot and modernizer of the country.

Filipino journalist and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa noted on CNN that Marcos Jr.’s landslide victory “shows not only Filipinos but the world, The Impact of Disinformation on a Democracy”.

Ferdinand "bongbong" Marcos Jr. with his running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of the current president.  Rodrigo Duterte.  Photo: AP

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. with his running mate, Sara Duterte, the current president’s daughter. Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: AP

Political and economic uncertainty

It is difficult to know what direction the son of the dictator will take in economic matters and foreign policy, although it is believed that in principle it will maintain rapprochement with China established by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, at a key moment in the power struggle between Beijing and Washington for its influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Regarding economic measures, the only certainty is that it has been favorable to continue with the infrastructure program Build, Build, Buildof his predecessor, current President Rodrigo Duterte.

Markets have greeted “Bongbong’s” victory with suspicion. The Manila Stock Exchange fell 3% after the open, while the Philippine peso lost 0.4% against the US dollar.

Source: EFE

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