The son of late Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos yesterday cemented a landslide presidential election victory, after Filipinos bet a familiar but tainted dynasty could ease rampant poverty — while dismissing warnings that the clan’s return would worsen corruption and weaken democracy.
With an initial count almost complete, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr had secured more than 56 percent of the vote — more than double the tally of his nearest rival, Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, a lawyer and a liberal.
His now unassailable lead of 16 million-plus votes spells another astonishing reversal in the fortunes of the Marcos family, who have gone from the presidential palace to pariahs and back again in the space of a few decades.
The Marcos victory is a hammer blow to millions of Filipinos who hoped to reverse course after six bloody years of increasingly authoritarian rule by outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Far from repudiating Duterte’s excesses, Filipino voters elected his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, as vice president by a landslide in a parallel vote.
In 1986, Ferdinand Marcos and kleptocratic first lady Imelda Marcos were chased into exile by the “People Power” revolution. Bongbong Marcos steadfastly refused to denounce his family’s brutal and corrupt excesses in a campaign marked by a relentless online whitewashing of history.
With memories of the regime fading and muddied by countless misleading Facebook posts, Filipino voters turned to Marcos to rekindle past glories that were mostly imagined.
“He will lift our country from the poverty we’re experiencing now,” said supporter and retired police officer Anthony Sola, who described himself as elated.
The 50-year-old dismissed allegations that the Marcoses stole as much as US$10 billion during their last period in power:
“I don’t believe they stole money, because if they did, they should have been imprisoned already,” he said.”
About 43 percent of Filipinos consider themselves poor, and 39 percent more feel they are on the borderline, a March poll by the Social Weather Survey found.
Delivering a late-night address from his campaign headquarters in Manila on Monday, a tired but beaming Marcos thanked volunteers for months of “sacrifices and work.”
However, he stopped short of claiming victory, saying that “the count is not yet done.”
A fully certified tally is not expected before May 28.
On the streets, hundreds of ecstatic supporters set off fireworks late into the night, waved the national flag and clambered onto parked vehicles to chant in victory.
Rights activists, Catholic leaders and political commentators all had warned about returning the Marcos clan to power.
Robredo admitted “clear disappointment” about the result, but vowed to continue the fight against poor governance.
The 57-year-old had promised voters that she would clean up the dirty style of politics that has long plagued the feudal and corrupt democracy, where a handful of surnames hold sway.
In the final weeks before the election, her campaign morphed into a catchall pro-democracy movement that drew almost one million people to a single protest in Manila.
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