The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree . . .
Approximately 67.5 million registered voters in the Philippines will head to the polls on May 9 to elect the country’s next president, vice-president, and half of its 24-member Senate. Incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte is limited to a six-year term and thus ineligible for re-election. The frontrunners in the presidential race include Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and remains popular with potential voters, at 56 per cent support, according to the latest polling. Current Vice-President Leni Robredo is running second, at 23 per cent support. For the Vice-Presidency, Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, has a substantial lead in the polls, followed by the current president of the Senate, Vicente Tito Sotto, and Robredo’s running mate, Kiko Pangilinan.
Historical revisionism goes viral . . .
Social media manipulation was part of Duterte’s 2016 campaign, and in the current election, social media sites have also been a battleground for historical accuracy. COVID-19 restrictions have limited in-person events, sending campaigning online – from e-commerce sites such as Shopee to platforms like Facebook. These sites and platforms are helping misinformation campaigns amplify falsehoods and conspiracies. For example, the Marcos family is often romanticized on Instagram with clips glorifying the martial law period (1972-1981) and fan pages celebrating Marcos Jr.’s sons. Although the Marcos family continues to face a multi-billion dollar embezzlement case dating back to Marcos Sr.’s rule (1965-1986), ‘re-spun’ social media content amasses billions of views on sites such as Tiktok, revealing the widespread reach of these narratives.
Filipino democracy’s midlife crisis . . .
The phrase “democracy’s midlife crisis” has been used to describe a democracy exhausted and stagnant. The Philippines is still experiencing high levels of poverty, food insecurity, and widespread inequality – exacerbated by political offices still dominated by powerful clans. Whether the people of the Philippines prefer a successor from an elite political dynasty (Marcos) or a human rights lawyer appealing to the masses (Robredo) is an issue that will be resolved through next week’s vote. Regardless of the outcome, the Philippines’ 34-year-old democracy will have a new set of stewards when the winning candidates take office on June 30.
- The Diplomat: The Philippines’ false nostalgia for authoritarian rule
- The Lowy Institute: Philippines elections and the politics behind it
- The Washington Post: How the Philippines’ brutal history is whitewashed for voters