From pariah to president: Marcos Jr takes over Philippines' top job

from pariah to president: marcos jr takes over philippines' top job
© Ted ALJIBE Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s easy victory in the Philippines’ May 9 presidential elections followed relentless whitewashing of his family’s past

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whose dictator father and namesake plundered and brutalised the Philippines, has reached the end of a decades-long campaign to rehabilitate the family brand: the presidency.

Marcos Jr, known by his nickname “Bongbong”, will succeed Rodrigo Duterte in the top job on Thursday after his landslide victory in last month’s elections.

His win followed relentless whitewashing of the family’s past and leveraging of alliances with rival families that control large swathes of the country.

In the 36 years since a popular uprising toppled the patriarch and chased the family into US exile, the Marcoses have been rebuilding their political fortunes.

Despite his own father’s concerns about his “carefree and lazy” nature, Marcos Jr, 64, made it to the ultimate post.

After narrowly losing the vice-presidential race to Leni Robredo in the 2016 election, he was determined their rematch in the presidential contest on May 9 would end differently.

Vowing to unify the country, Marcos Jr made sweeping promises on the campaign trail to boost jobs and tackle rising prices in the lower-middle-income country.

Marcos said last month he was “humbled” by his success at the ballot box and vowed to “always strive to perfection”.

“I want to do well, because when a president does well the country does well, and I want to do well for this country,” he told reporters after Congress formally ratified the results.

– Polarising figure –

Growing up in the presidential palace in Manila, Marcos Jr wanted to be an astronaut before he followed his father’s footsteps into politics.

He served as vice governor and twice as governor of the family’s northern stronghold of Ilocos Norte province, and also had stints in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

from pariah to president: marcos jr takes over philippines' top job
© NOEL CELIS The Marcos clan returned to the Philippines after their patriarch’s death in 1989 and began getting elected to ever-higher positions

His 92-year-old mother, Imelda, said she had dreamed of him becoming the country’s leader.

Marcos Jr’s links to his father, whose rule was marked by the bloody repression of the martial law years, have made him one of the nation’s most polarising politicians.

He has benefited from a deluge of misinformation on social media targeting a largely young electorate with no memory of the corruption, killings and other abuses committed during the elder Marcos’s 20-year rule.

from pariah to president: marcos jr takes over philippines' top job
© Ted ALJIBE Philippine president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr (C) waves to supporters as he arrives for his proclamation as the country’s president

His campaign was bolstered by teaming up with Sara Duterte — who won even more votes than Marcos to easily secure the vice presidency — as well as the backing of other political elites.

Marcos Jr and Duterte’s shared history as the offspring of authoritarian leaders has alarmed rights groups and many in the clergy, who fear they will use their victory to entrench themselves in power.

– Political revival –

Marcos Jr was at boarding school in Britain in 1972 when his father declared martial law, unleashing large-scale corruption and a bloody crackdown on dissent.

He has defended his father’s rule by citing the initial surge of economic growth and government spending under martial law, which he said was necessary to save the country from communist and Muslim insurgencies.

While he describes his father as a “political genius”, Marcos Jr has distanced himself from the charges of pillaging state coffers and economic mismanagement that later impoverished the nation.

“To the world, he says: Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions,” Vic Rodriguez, a close aide, said in a statement after Marcos Jr claimed victory.

After the fallen dictator’s death in Hawaii in 1989, the Marcoses returned home and began their remarkable revival, getting elected to a succession of higher positions.

from pariah to president: marcos jr takes over philippines' top job
© Ted ALJIBE Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s alliance with Sara Duterte, daughter of former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, helped sweep him to power in May

The family’s turnaround has been aided by public disenchantment over an enduring gulf between rich and poor, and graft allegations that marred post-Marcos administrations.

Seeking to avoid a repeat of the 2016 campaign when he was hounded by questions about his family’s past, Marcos Jr this time snubbed debates with rivals and gave few interviews.

Even since his election, Marcos Jr has rarely spoken to the media, preferring to communicate via Trixie Cruz-Angeles, a lawyer and blogger recently appointed his press secretary.

Opponents tried in vain to have him disqualified from the race over a previous tax conviction. They have appealed to the Supreme Court, but appear to have little chance of winning.

They also accused him of exaggerating his educational qualifications, and the family of failing to pay nearly $4 billion in estate taxes.

Until recently, outgoing president Duterte was a supporter of Marcos Jr.

But although his party endorsed Marcos for president, Duterte called him a “weak” leader.

This fuelled speculation that Duterte, who faces an international probe into his deadly drug war, was trying to secure assurances from Marcos Jr for when he is out of office.

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Palay-Palay  National ParkAbout PagudpudFive Levels of Aguinid FallsIntroducing San Pascual, MasbateMount Manmanoc ItineraryAdventures in Fortune Island of Nasugbu | LakwatseroNext Level Mobile Photography with Sony Xperia XZ1 | LakwatseroScuba Diving in Siargao: Discovering the Underwater Treasures of Daku Island | LakwatseroAbout Davao CityHow to Get to AndaJanuary: Cebu & IloiloHow to Get to Mines View ParkKamay ni Hesus: Pilgrimage Site in Lucban | LakwatseroPoon Hill: Three Days of Himalayan AdventureCalvary Hill Cemetery of SagadaHow to Get to TambobongMilford SoundTen Things To Do in Sagada: Bucket List for NewbiesDahoyhoy FallsPilot for a Day: The Ultra Light Aircraft Experience | LakwatseroReal Coffee and Tea Cafe of Boracay | LakwatseroGhorepani Poon Hill TrekAbout Maniwaya IslandHow to Get to Binanga FallsPalo Alto Falls of Baras, Rizal | LakwatseroExplore Moscow: Best Things to Do in the City | LakwatseroStairway to HeavenMount Guiting-Guiting Overnight Trek Complete ItineraryCape Melville LighthouseLa Cathedral Café: Restaurant with a View in IntramurosKapurpurawan Rock Formation: White and BeautifulDay Hike ItineraryThe Sandbox at AlvieraHow to go to Mararison IslandA Weekend of Adventures in South Cebu and DumagueteCalayan Island: A Virtual Diary of Our Epic Journey | LakwatseroFaro de Isla Jintotolo (Jintotolo Island Lighthouse)Low’s PeakAbout Taal VolcanoHow to Get to Mag-aso Falls of BoholSamar: Biri Rock Formations Up Close | LakwatseroBonbon BeachIntroducing Jomalig IslandAbout Cotabato CityAbout TabukLeyte Landing Memorial: A Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise | LakwatseroSilyang Bato, Mount MaramiPanimahawa Ridge and Cedar Falls Day Hike ItineraryFun in the World’s Best IslandSample Albay ItinerariesMagpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools6 Tips for Living in the Philippines | LakwatseroDaraga Church: The Nuestra Señora dela Porteria ChurchTulgao Rice TerracesCape Melville Lighthouse (Faro del Cabo Melville)Canyoneering to Kawasan FallsLake FewaLong Weekend: Five-Day Suggested Itineraries in Luzon | LakwatseroAbout CaponesThe Wichcraft Café of Zamboanga City | LakwatseroHow to Get to GuiuanAll-Female FloorHow to Get to Neri’s VilleDiotay’s EateryShort but Sweet Melaka Getaway | LakwatseroHow to Get to Tinuy-An FallsOslob: The Lost Grandeur of Tumalog Falls | LakwatseroIlocos ItineraryDitumabo Falls: The Mother Falls of San Luis, Aurora!Biking in Kalinga: Trek and Bike to TabukParadise Garden: A Haven for Sea TurtlesSiargao: Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools | LakwatseroAbout Bucas GrandeCoral GardenSagadaA Walk in Sangay Siapo Island Before it is Gone? | LakwatseroAmbaguio-Akiki ItineraryCorregidor Island Lighthouse (Faro dela Isla de Corregidor)Faro de Punta de Malabrigo (Malabrigo Point Lighthouse)About CulionNaidi Hill LighthouseBoquete IslandHow to Commute to Temple of LeahCatanduanes: The Heritage Church of Bato | Lakwatsero1. White Water Rafting or KayakingMount Fuji Overnight Climb ItinerarySip & Gogh Paint Studio: Unleash Your Inner Van Gogh | LakwatseroBatanes ItineraryHow to Get to Quitinday HillsAbout Callao CaveDiscover LakawonBiking to Taal: A Fun Ride to Batangas’ Heritage TownAntique Blooming: The Rafflesia of San RemigioMalasimbo Lights and Dance FestivalBacolod ItineraryPoon HillAttractions in Mirador Heritage and Eco ParkHulhumale Public BeachRomblon Island: Bonbon Beach, Tiamban Beach & MoreAdventure in Sabah: White Water Rafting in Padas River | LakwatseroHow to Get to Hinakpan Mystical HillsWelcome to Lake SebuAbout CasiguranAbout BuscalanHow to Go to Kalanggaman IslandFaro de Cabo Bojeador (Cape Bojeador Lighthouse)Backpacking Maldives: Budget Itinerary, Expenses & TipsHow to Get ThereOffbeat Bohol Itinerary: 3D/2N of AdventuresHow to Get to Tawi-TawiAlona BeachPangilatan Falls: The Forgotten Gem of Tapaz, CapizWorld War I: SMS Cormoran II3D/2N Taiwan Itinerary: Taipei – Yehliu – ShiffenLaos for Backpackers: Getting There on a BudgetBasic RequirementsHow to Get to Antong FallsCathedral CaveHow to Go to Gubat, SorsogonAbout SadangaHow to Get to Bugui Point LighthouseHow to Get to Cabra Island LighthouseCebu Itinerary: Three-Day Adventures in the SouthAbout AndaLuna: A Day in the Show Window of Apayao | LakwatseroMargues Blue LagoonFinding Palaui’s Cape Engaño Lighthouse | LakwatseroHow to Get to Mantayupan Falls of Barili, CebuHow to Get to MaligcongLinapacan Islands: Between Paradise | LakwatseroKLIA to KLCCHow to Get to JomaligBanaug ShoalEspadang Bato – Payaran Falls Day Hike Itinerary10 Remarkable Philippine Destinations for Solo TravelMiagao Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in IloiloAbout Carbin ReefAbout Parola IslandCabra WreckageCobra Falls: Ozamiz City’s Best Kept SecretBasco: The Chapel on the Hill of Tukon | LakwatseroBack in Kathmandu’s Lovely Mess | LakwatseroHimalayan Adventure: Kathmandu to Pokhara Overland | LakwatseroItineraryChinatown Vancouver (Stop #23)Situbo Falls: Tampilisan's Awesome SurpriseHow to Get to Inambakan FallsTuasan Falls: Another Camiguin’s Charmer | LakwatseroHow to Get to Lake SebuMarinduque Loop: Biking in the Heart of the Philippines1. Batanes: A Piece of HeavenMe Gusta Sunzibar Tacloban! | LakwatseroHitachi Seaside Park: Quick Guide from Tokyo and NaritaBeautiful Islands and BeachesSunzibarTrekking NotesSnapshot: In Love with Batulao | LakwatseroPalaui IslandHow to Get to Mount PinatuboBicycle Diary: The Ride to Infanta | LakwatseroSwimHow to Get to Osmeña PeakDaranak Falls of Tanay Rizal | LakwatseroHow to Get to Stobosa Hillside Homes ArtworkSurf or Learn to SurfDIY Solo and Self-Guided Trek to Annapurna Base CampBatanes by Bike: North Batan Tour | LakwatseroThe BeachSta. 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