In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, the son of the former dictator, about to be elected President of the Republic

In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, the son of the former dictator, about to be elected President of the Republic

This is the final touch to the work started several decades ago to try to restore the image of the family. Ferdinand Marcos Junior was elected, Tuesday, May 10, new president of the Philippines. According to results covering more than 90% of the constituencies, the son of the late dictator of the same name obtains nearly 30 million votes, about twice as many as his main rival, incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo, an impossible lead. to catch up. It was enough for him, during this ballot in a single round, to be the one of the ten candidates who obtained the most votes to win.

Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Junior celebrate the election results at his headquarters in Mandaluyong on May 9, 2022.

This victory of the one who is nicknamed “Bongbong” completes the spectacular return to grace of his clan, passed in less than a generation from total political disgrace to supreme power.

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In an address on Tuesday at dawn from his campaign headquarters in Manila, “Bongbong”, 64, refrained from declaring his victory, merely thanking his supporters for their months of “sacrifices and work”. “Let’s wait until it’s very clear, until the count reaches 100% of the votes, and then we can celebrate”, he said. In the capital, without waiting, his euphoric supporters launched fireworks and roamed the streets waving Filipino flags.

Torrents of misinformation

About 67 million Filipinos were called to the polls for these general elections, during which the vice-president was also to be designated as well as the deputies, half of the senators, the provincial governors and thousands of other local elected officials.

Marcos Junior’s triumph comes after an election campaign marked by torrents of disinformation and the unwavering support of incumbent authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte, whose popularity remains very high.

Voters wait to cast their ballots in Manila on May 9, 2022.

For years, pro-Marcos Junior accounts have invaded social networks, passing off to young Filipinos the twenty years of his father’s regime (1965-1986) as a golden era of peace and prosperity for the Philippines. And ignoring the tens of thousands of opponents arrested, tortured or killed, or even the billions of dollars stolen by the Marcos clan from the coffers of the country.

The regime had been overthrown in 1986 by a huge popular revolt, and the Marcos family had gone into exile in the United States. Ferdinand Marcos Jr – who was boarding in the UK when his father declared martial law in 1972 – today defends the regime of Marcos Senior, whose he praises the “political genius”building on strong early economic growth and public spending under martial law, obscuring the corruption and mismanagement that later impoverished the nation.

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Returning to the country a few years after the death, in 1989, of the deposed dictator in Hawaii, the Marcos clan applied themselves to gradually rebuilding a powerful network of political support, by exploiting local allegiances to get elected to a series high positions. Marcos Jr was thus twice vice-governor of the province of Ilocos Norte, the family stronghold, and was also elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Behind-the-scenes talks

Mr. Marcos’ ties to his father, author of a bloody crackdown during the years of martial law, make him one of the most divisive politicians in the country. “Bongbong” promised to restore “unity” of the country during his six-year term. He had a rather lackluster election campaign, struggling to galvanize his supporters and drawing smaller crowds than his rival Leni Robredo. But it has benefited from widespread Filipino dissatisfaction with successive democratic governments since the end of the dictatorship, which they say have been unable to improve their standard of living.

He also and above all owes his victory to a series of backstage negotiations with other political clans, and in particular to his alliance with Sarah Duterte, daughter of the outgoing president. The latter also had a considerable lead in the election to the vice-presidency, which took place simultaneously.

Also read the archive (2016): In the Philippines, the ex-dictator Marcos buried as a hero of the nation

Leni Robredo, a 57-year-old lawyer and economist who campaigned to rid the country of corruption and the stranglehold of political dynasties, expressed her “clear disappointment” facing the result “Nothing is lost, we have not fallen”she said in a televised speech, promising to continue the fight against the Marcos once the complete results are officially validated, within a few weeks. “We’re just getting started”she promised.

Leni Robredo, presidential candidate and former vice-president, casts her vote in the province of Camarines Sur (Philippines), May 9, 2022.

A day of violence

Other candidates for president included legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao and former garbage collector turned actor Francisco Domagoso.

Monday was marked by violence, as is often the case during elections in the Philippines. At least four people have been killed across the country in attacks on polling stations. Sunday evening, the explosion of a grenade in front of another had left nine injured.

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Marcos Jr had started his day by voting at a school named after his grandfather in Batac, the family stronghold in the north of the country. His mother, Imelda Marcos, the 92-year-old matriarch of the clan, came to slip her ballot into the ballot box a little later, helped by her daughter Irene and her grandson Sandro, the youngest son of Marcos Jr.

“My view has always been that dynasties are not inherently bad, although some may be.said Sandro, 28, who was running for a seat in Congress. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of dynasties that also served their constituents very well. »

The World with AFP