Philippines Begins New Era Of Marcos Rule, Decades After Overthrow

Thousands of Marcos opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism

A dramatic political return for one of Asia’s most illustrious families was completed on Thursday with the swearing-in of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ son and namesake as president of the Philippines, 36 years after his father was overthrown in a popular uprising.

With the aid of what his detractors claim has been decades-long campaign to change the public’s picture of a family that lived opulently at the top of one of the most notorious kleptocracies in the world, Marcos Jr. secured a rare landslide victory in last month’s election.

In a speech that echoed his unifying campaign themes, Marcos Jr., better known by his stage name “Bongbong,” promised to advance the nation under his leadership with policies that benefited all citizens. He also thanked the electorate for giving him what he called “the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”

Imelda’s Presence

At his inaugural ceremony, he addressed his immediate family as well as his 92-year-old mother Imelda, a former four-term congressman, and sister Imee, a senator, who were both sat close by. He said, “You will not be disappointed, so do not be afraid.”

Marcos Jr, 64, also praised his late father’s rule, but said his presidency was not about the past, but a better future.

“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence ….but he got it done sometimes with the needed support, sometimes without,” he said.

“So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.” He added: “No looking back in anger or nostalgia.”

The elder Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 for two decades, almost half of it under martial law, helping him to extend his grip on power until his overthrow and his family’s retreat into exile during a 1986 “people power” revolution.

People Power

Thousands of Marcos opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from state coffers. The Marcos family has rejected accusations of embezzlement.

Hundreds of activists were expected to protest against the inauguration of Marcos Jr, angered by a campaign buoyed by a powerful network of supporters and social media influencers determined to debunk historical narratives of the Marcos era.

The former senator and congressman campaigned on the slogan “together, we shall rise again”, invoking nostalgia for his father’s rule, which his family and supporters have portrayed as a golden age for the Philippines, a former U.S. colony.

Voters are counting on him to deliver on pledges to create jobs and bring down consumer prices in a country of 110 million people, nearly a quarter of whom live on less than $2 per day.

In a stirring 30-minute speech, Marcos Jr pledged education reforms, to improve food sufficiency, infrastructure, waste management and energy supply and to give full support for millions of overseas Filipino workers.

“I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility you put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly but I am ready for the task,” he said.

“I will get it done.” – Reuters.

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