In Philippines election, late dictator’s son aims to restore family pride -Breaking
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Ferdinand Marcos Jr, a former senator and the son of Ferdinand Marcos Jr is welcomed by his supporters at his entrance to the Supreme Court in Metro Manila on April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco/
By Karen Lema
MANILA (Reuters – Ferdinand Marcos, son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos is the frontrunner for the Philippines’ presidency race. This remarkable rebranding will take place 36 years after a people power uprising overthrew his autocratic father.
With official campaigning beginning on Tuesday, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 64, holds a double-digit lead in the polls, three months ahead of the May 9 elections.
Political analysts believe that his push to become president was made possible by a decade-long effort in public relations to change public opinion about Marcoses and their supporters. Critics charge the Marcoses with trying to rewrite history.
Richard Heydarian is an academic, author and political specialist.
“The Marcoses have come to wipe out the 1986 revolution (People Power) and to restore the glory of Marcos’ regime.
Marcos was elected governor of and Congressman for the northern Ilocos Norte region, which is his father’s bailiwick. He returned to exile in 1990s. Marcos won a seat at the Senate in 2010.
His sister, a senator, is also a former governor, congresswoman and former governor. Imelda his mother was unsuccessfully running for President in 1992 and was then elected to Congress for four terms.
For millions of Filipinos, it is impossible to imagine the return of Marcos to Malacanang’s presidential palace. However, over half of the country’s sixty million citizens are aged 40-plus and were not subjected the Marcos regime, its oppression, and plunder.
Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Imelda were his president for almost 20 years, serving as dictators before being ousted by the people power revolt in 1986. This uprising has been a source of great fame around the globe.
Marcos Sr., and Imelda were known for their extensive collection of art, jewellery, and shoes. They are accused of having amassed more than $10 Billion while Marcos Sr. was still in office.
During his rule, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed, according to Amnesty International.
More than 11,100 victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime were paid compensation using millions from Marcos Swiss bank accounts, part of the family’s ill-gotten wealth recovered by the government.
Loretta Ann Rosales was one of them. She was a political activist and was sexually and physically abused under the Marcos regime. Now she is among several people who are attempting to block Marcos Jr.’s candidacy for the presidency.
“We thought we had gotten rid of the Marcoses,” said Rosales, who is also a former chairperson of the human rights commission. “I would like him disqualified.”
Marcos Jr. has challenged the Amnesty data, and rejected long-held narratives about oppression in his father’s government. His family and he have avoided asking questions about the past atrocities, and instead praised what they claim to be a “golden age”.
Bongbong, the younger Marcos also called him Bongbong. He spoke highly of his father while admiring his “style” of work and qualities of a strong leader.
“He had a very clear understanding of what needed to be done and how to do it, and that I think was his best quality as a leader,” Bongbong Marcos said in a YouTube interview last year. We lack leadership. That is the problem.
The YouTube interview titled ‘The Greatest Lesson Bongbong Marcos Learned From His Father’ has been viewed 13 million times since it aired in September.
“He is doing very well because we have this pandemic of disinformation,” said Victor Manhit, an analyst with the Stratbase think tank. “He is dominating social media’s political discourse.”
Vera Files, a fact-checking organization, stated in December that Marcos was the top beneficiary of online disinformation to improve his image and discredit rivals before the official campaign period began.
“Because you are surrounded on social media by the same account saying the same things about Marcos (Sr.) being a good leader – benevolent, revolutionary, all those narratives – even if it sounds bananas and not grounded on facts, you are more likely to believe it is true,” said Marie Fatima Gaw, communications research professor at the University of the Philippines.
Marcos stated that he doesn’t engage in any negative campaigns.
He lost the 2016 vice presidential race to human rights lawyer Leni Robredo, who is also contesting the presidency, along with boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, and senator Panfilo Lacson, among others.
For Raphie Respicio, 48, a tricycle driver and tour guide in the Marcos family bastion in Ilocos Norte, no amount of criticism against Marcos will weaken his support for the former senator.
“He has done plenty of things here … and he helped tricycle drivers earn a living through tourism,” Respicio said. We are 100 percent for Bongbong.”