Philippines protests erupt as son of late dictator wins presidency – video report Philippines Ferdinand Marcos Jr triumphs in Philippines presidential election Son of late dictator wins more than twice as many votes as nearest rival after campaign marred by extensive social media disinformation Rebecca Ratcliffe in Manila Mon 9 May 2022 22.08 BST Share on Facebook
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Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, has won a landslide presidential election victory, signalling an extraordinary rehabilitation for one of the country’s most notorious political families.
With more than 90% of an initial count concluded, Marcos Jr had almost 30 million votes, more than double the tally of his closest rival, the current vice-president, Leni Robredo, a former human rights lawyer.
Supporters dressed in red shirts, his campaign colour, gathered outside his camp’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Monday night, waving the flag of the Philippines as passing cars sounded their horns.
Marcos Jr thanked volunteers and political leaders “that have cast their lot with us” in a late-night video message, but he stopped short of claiming victory. “Let’s wait until it’s very clear, until the count reaches 100%, then we can celebrate,” he said.
Timeline The Marcos family in the Philippines 8 November 1949 Political debut The Manila trial lawyer Ferdinand Marcos wins the first of what would be three terms in the House of Representatives. The win comes a decade after he was jailed for the 1935 assassination of his father’s political rival, Julio Nalundasan. He was later acquitted after arguing his own case in a supreme court appeal. Marcos is elected to the Senate in 1959 and eventually becomes Senate president, a position seen as a stepping stone to the presidency. The following are the key dates in the political rise, fall and resurrection of the clan, as Ferdinand Marcos Jr prepares to move back into the presidential palace where he grew up.
1 May 1954 Marriage After a whirlwind courtship, Marcos marries beauty queen Imelda Romualdez. His bride is from a powerful political dynasty in the central province of Leyte and will eventually help him rule the country for 20 years. Imelda, who has a taste for expensive jewellery, art and shoes, serves at various times as a cabinet member, governor of the national capital region, and ambassador at large. They have three children, including a son called Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who they nickname ‘Bongbong’.
9 November 1965 Presidency Marcos switches parties to run against the incumbent president, Diosdado Macapagal, in the 1965 elections. He wins in a landslide. He is re-elected to an unprecedented second term in 1969 but allegations of corruption and authoritarianism have already started to cloud his reputation.
21 September 1972 Martial law Constitutionally barred from running for a third term as president, Marcos shocks the nation by imposing martial law on 21 September 1972, which enables him to stay in power. He uses the outbreak of armed hostilities against communist and Muslim insurgencies as justification for the decision. With US backing, Marcos rules by decree and launches a brutal crackdown on dissent that results in tens of thousands of people being jailed, tortured or killed.
17 January 1981 Martial law ends Marcos lifts martial law but continues to rule by decree with his martial law-era acts and orders remaining in place.
16 June 1981 Election boycott The first presidential polls since 1969 are boycotted by the opposition. Marcos easily wins in a vote widely derided as a sham.
21 August 1983 Aquino Jr killed The prominent opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr is assassinated by state forces at Manila airport as he returns from exile in the US, triggering massive street protests calling for the dictator’s resignation.
3 November 1985 Snap election Widely rumoured to be ailing and reeling from international criticism, Marcos announces on US television that he will call a snap presidential election for the following year. Corazon Aquino, the widow of the assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr, reluctantly takes up the challenge of running against him.
7 February 1986 Fraudulent vote Marcos declares himself the winner of the February presidential election, which a delegation of international observers and the Philippines’ Catholic bishops say was marred by allegations of wholesale fraud and violence. Aquino rejects the outcome and calls for massive civil disobedience actions.
22 February 1986 People Power The defence secretary, Juan Ponce Enrile, and the paramilitary Philippine cnstabulary chief, Fidel Ramos, announce they are breaking from Marcos. Marcos claims to have foiled a coup attempt. Catholic church leaders muster hundreds of thousands of civilians on to the streets to protect the rebels, sparking the People Power Revolution.
25 February 1986 Marcoses flee After a four-day standoff and the US government’s decision to withdraw its backing, Marcos and his family flee the Malacañang presidential palace. The vast complex, which has been their home for 20 years, is ransacked by protesters who find thousands of shoes, designer dresses and documentary evidence of their extravagance. The US military flies the family to Hawaii and Aquino takes over the presidency. Her first action is to create an agency to go after the estimated $10bn plundered by Marcos, Imelda and their allies.
28 September 1989 Marcos dies Marcos succumbs to kidney, lung and heart ailments, dying in exile in the US. Four years later, his remains are flown to the family’s stronghold of Ilocos Norte province and temporarily stored in an air-conditioned crypt at their ancestral home in Batac city.
4 November 1991 Family comeback Imelda Marcos returns to the Philippines to face charges of tax fraud and corruption. The court cases drag on for decades and no one in the family is jailed. Tapping local loyalties, the clan regains its political clout in successive elections. Marcos Jr wins his father’s old congressional seat in 1992 and is later elected Ilocos Norte governor. He enters the Senate in 2010.
9 May 2016 Narrow loss Marcos Jr narrowly loses the vice-presidential contest to congressional newcomer Leni Robredo, who he accuses of cheating. He challenges the result but the supreme court upholds it.
18 November 2016 Marcos Sr burial Marcos Sr’s remains are buried at the national heroes’ cemetery in Manila with full military honours on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, an ally of the family. The private ceremony is attended by relatives, as police are deployed to stop angry protesters from going near the site.
5 October 2021 Presidential bid Marcos Jr files his candidacy for the presidency and forms a formidable alliance with Duterte’s daughter Sara, who runs for vice-president. He surges to the top of voter surveys as efforts to have him disqualified from the race crumble and a massive misinformation campaign seeking to rewrite the family’s history cranks into high gear.
9 May 2022 Election day Marcos Jr caps his family’s return to political power by winning the Philippines presidency. He secures more than double the tally of nearest rival Robredo. Agence France-Presse The key dates in the political rise, fall and resurrection of the Marcos clan, as Ferdinand Marcos Jr moves back into the presidential palace where he grew up. Show Hide
“I hope you won’t get tired of trusting us,” Marcos also told supporters in remarks streamed on Facebook. “We have plenty of things to do,” he said, adding “an endeavour as large as this does not involve one person.”
Marcos Jr, 64, ran with the slogan “Together we shall rise again”, invoking nostalgia for his father’s authoritarian regime, which the family and its supporters have portrayed as a golden era in a campaign fuelled by online disinformation as social media has been flooded with false stories that have swept aside the atrocities and corruption widespread during the period.
Such portrayals have horrified survivors of Marcos Sr’s brutal regime. Thousands of political opponents were tortured, arrested and disappeared under his rule, while as much as $10bn (£8bn) was plundered.
Marcos Sr was ousted in the People Power revolution in 1986, when the family was humiliatingly airlifted from the presidential palace by helicopter, and fled into exile.
Ever since, say analysts, the Marcoses have sought to rebrand themselves and regain their place in politics. “The disinformation infrastructure has been there for a long time. It’s not as if it just sprouted during this campaign. The Marcoses’ plan to reach the presidency has been in action for decades,” said Aries Arugay, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, who is based in Manila.
Marcos Jr had maintained a clear lead over his opponents in surveys conducted in the run-up to the vote, with Robredo second. A former human rights lawyer who has advocated for marginalised groups, she campaigned on a promise of good governance and an end to corruption.
People began lining up to vote before polling centres opened at 6am local time (2300 BST) on Monday morning, and some waited more than four hours in the heat as malfunctioning voting machines caused delays. The vote followed three months of fierce campaigning, in which 2 million Robredo volunteers launched an unprecedented door-to-door campaign to try to win over voters and counter the onslaught of online disinformation.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Robredo delivered a statement to her supporters, saying the voice of the people was “getting clearer and clearer.” “In the name of the Philippines, which I know you also love so dearly, we should hear this voice because in the end, we only have this one nation to share.”
She told her supporters that a movement had been born, and said the fight for reforms would not end with the elections. “Press for the truth. It took long for the structure of lies to be erected. We have the time and opportunity now to fight and dismantle this.”
On Tuesday in Manila, crowds, many wearing black, gathered in front of the Comelec office, the Commission on Elections, protesting against the return of the Marcoses and alleging cheating.
Leni Robredo queues as she waits to vote in Magarao, Camarines Sur. Photograph: Lisa Marie David/Reuters
Marcos Jr’s candidacy has polarised opinion, and some do not believe that the family has plundered state wealth, despite court rulings at home and abroad.
At Santa Ana elementary school, in a residential area of Manila, which opened as a polling station, Raquel Deguzaman, 59, said she supported Marcos Jr and did not believe the family was corrupt. “[Marcos Sr] was able to help the Philippines. He’s really good,” she said, adding that he had built infrastructure, including hospitals.
Jack Drescher, 58, who was on his way to vote, also cited the building of infrastructure under Marcos Sr as a reason for backing his son. He was not concerned about corruption within the family, he said. “He has a lot of gold so he won’t steal any money,” he said, adding that he had heard this from YouTube.
A myth claiming that the Marcoses own large stashes of gold has circulated online in various forms for years, including the claim that it will be given back to the people if the family is returned to power.
Although Marcos Jr has denied the existence of any organised online campaign, he was the overwhelming beneficiary of false claims circulating on social media. The majority of disinformation was either designed to undermine Robredo’s reputation or enhance the images of the Marcoses, according to analysis by the fact-checking coalition Tsek.ph, which monitored disinformation in the run-up to the election.
Marcos Jr has avoided TV debates and challenging media interviews ahead of the election, and his campaign has been thin on policy detail.
The idea that Marcos Sr’s rule was a prosperous and peaceful era appeals to a generation of voters who did not live through Marcos Sr’s martial law regime, including those who “may harbour deep dissatisfaction with the non-inclusive development of the past 30 or so years,” said Ronald Mendoza, dean of Manila’s Ateneo school of government.
Cleo Anne A Calimbahin, an associate professor of political science at De La Salle University Manila, said the results should not come as a surprise but that they were sobering. They reflected in part a growing frustration among the public with previous administrations.
“I think this is a response of a public that saw the lack of progress made since 1986,” said Calimbahin, referencing the People Power revolution that put the Philippines on the road to democracy, a process that has not been linear.
“Unfortunately, the reforms agenda and its inability to deliver since 1986 has made people even wary of reformist candidates,” said Calimbahin.
The election winner will take office on 30 June for a single six-year term.