The son of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos is the main contender to succeed incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte. According to recent polls, Ferdinand Marcos, better known as “Pong Pong,” will have the support of just over half of the population in today’s election. A Marcos victory would be a huge comeback for the family, which was expelled from the country after the 1986 uprising but has already regained some important positions in recent years.
Under Marcos Sr.’s 20-year reign of terror, corruption and human rights abuses were rampant, but the family, especially Marcos’ wife Imelda, was also known to be particularly extravagant. The first lady is said to have amassed no less than 3,000 pairs of shoes and an impressive jewelry collection.
And 64-year-old Marcus is not without doubts. He has been under fire for some time, due in part to his failure to pay €3.7 billion in taxes on his father’s property, and was convicted in 1995 for failing to file a tax return for three years in the mid-1980s.
Marcus does not care about this criticism, nor does he ignore the presidential debates. In the few interviews he gave, he seemed to be relieved. Other presidential candidates pledged during those debates to take back unpaid taxes from the Marcos family.
Huge disinformation campaign
Marcos is primarily focused on uniting the country in his campaign. He also wants to fight unemployment and inflation after the epidemic dealt a heavy blow to the archipelago. Marcus Jr. spreads his message primarily on social media, where he launched a massive disinformation campaign targeting young people. They had never known the bloody oppression under Marcus Sr., nor the rampant corruption.
Marcos’ running mate is Sarah Duterte-Carpio, daughter of current President Rodrigo Duterte and already mayor of the southern city of Davao. Duterte himself can no longer be a candidate because the constitution allows only one term.
Current Vice President Lenny Robredo is in the polls with less than a quarter of voting intentions. Even boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is now a senator, was late. He would have scored about 7 percent.
In addition to the president and vice president, the Philippines also elects 12 senators and all 316 seats in the House of Representatives. At the local level, a total of 18,000 jobs have been selected. This includes provincial governors and mayors. Many of the pawns of the Marcus family are also candidates for those elections at a lower level. For example, Ferdinand’s nephew Emmy, who herself sits in the Senate, is a candidate to succeed himself as Governor of Ilocos Norte Province. The widow of another cousin hopes to remain deputy governor there again.
Analysts point out that influential families in the Philippines have long been pulling the strings, either through vote buying or intimidation. This clan system is getting stronger. Manila political science professor Julio Tehanque sums up the system as “power begets power.” “The longer they stay in power, the more powerful they become.”
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