Rising Son: Bongbong Marcos Elected President of the Philippines

Conjugal dictatorship bears fruit . . . 

Running on the campaign slogan “together we shall rise again,” Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was elected yesterday as the next president of the Philippines. Securing more than twice the number of votes (30.4 million) as his main opposition, current Vice President Leni Robredo (14.5 million), Marcos Jr. won his landslide victory with overwhelming voter turnout. However, this year’s elections also had some challenges. In addition to problems maintaining distancing requirements due to COVID-19, there were also reports of malfunctioning voting machines, electoral violence, and allegations of vote-buying.

A family tree with deep roots . . .

The revival of the Marcos family is not a new phenomenon. Despite publicly criticizing Bongbong for being a “spoiled child,” as part of his 2016 campaign, outgoing President Duterte gave him a boost. He approved the official burial of Marcos Sr. with military honours and expressed his admiration for the Marcos dictatorship. In fact, people’s approval for Duterte is believed to correlate closely with their support for Marcos, much more so than other predictors such as age or socioeconomic status. Moreover, many members of the Marcos family hold important political positions. Bongbong’s sister is a senator and his nephew is a governor. The period of martial law under Marcos Sr. (1972-1981) is rarely covered in school textbooks, and the entire family has been staging a comeback to politics since their return from exile in 1991.

The despairs of democracy?

Marcos was notably absent from debates among his fellow candidates and has no explicit political platform. Like Duterte, Marcos publicly committed to maintaining the “special relationship” with the U.S., while seeking funding from China for infrastructure. However, Marcos is also likely to stifle the International Criminal Court’s investigation of Duterte’s War on Drugs. And his assuming of the presidency could undermine the legal proceedings over the Marcos’ family’s ill-gotten wealth. What is clear from yesterday’s election results is that 36 years after Marcos Sr. was ousted, many voters who were not alive during his era will now experience a revival of sorts of his family’s legacy.