Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the eponymous son of a deposed dictator, will be sworn in as Philippine president on Thursday in one of history’s greatest political comebacks, but opponents say succeeded by whitewashing his family’s image.
His rise to power, 36 years after a military-backed ‘People Power’ uprising brought his father to global disgrace, is turning politics in Asian democracy, where a public holiday, monuments and the Philippine constitution are reminders of the tyrannical rule of his father.
Activists and survivors of the era of martial law under his father are planning protests timed for Marcos Jr.’s inauguration. on the steps of the National Museum in Manila. Thousands of police officers, including anti-riot contingents, SWAT commandos and snipers, were deployed for security in the bayside tourist district.
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff, are among foreign dignitaries attending the afternoon ceremony.
“Wow, is this really happening?” asked Bonifacio Ilagan, a 70-year-old activist who was detained and severely tortured by insurgent forces during the elder Marcos’s reign. “For victims of martial law like me, this is a nightmare.”
Such historical baggage and antagonism will make Marcos Jr. during a six-year presidency that begins at a time of intense crisis.
The Philippines is among the hardest hit countries in Asia by the two-year coronavirus pandemic, after more than 60,000 deaths and prolonged lockdowns that pushed the economy into its worst recession since World War II, exacerbating poverty, unemployment and hunger. As the pandemic eased early this year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine fueled global inflation and fueled fears of food shortages.
Last week, Marcos Jr. announced that he would serve temporarily as agriculture minister after taking office to prepare for potential food supply emergencies. “I think the problem is serious enough,” he said, adding that he has asked his top advisers to brace themselves for “emergencies, especially when it comes to food supplies.”
He also inherits decades-old Muslim and Communist uprisings, crime, gaping inequalities and political divisions fueled by his election.
Congress declared its landslide victory last month, as well as that of its running mate Sara Duterte, the outgoing president’s daughter, in the vice presidential race.
“I ask you all to pray for me, wish me the best. I want to do it right because if the president does well, the country will do well,” he said after his congressional proclamation without question.
Marcos Jr. received more than 31 million votes and Sara Duterte more than 32 million of the more than 55 million votes cast in the May 9 election – huge victories that will give them solid political capital as they face huge doubts arising from reputation from their fathers. It was the Philippines’ first presidential victory in decades.
Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte led a relentless anti-drug campaign that killed thousands of mostly poor suspects in an unprecedented scale of murders that the International Criminal Court was investigating as a possible crime against humanity. The investigation was suspended in November, but the ICC’s chief prosecutor has asked for it to resume immediately.
Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte have faced calls to help prosecute her father and cooperate with the international court when they take office, a looming political dilemma.
Marcos Jr., a former governor, congressman and senator, has refused to acknowledge or apologize for massive human rights abuses and looting under his father’s rule and has defended his legacy.
During the campaign, he and Sara Duterte avoided controversial issues and focused on a call for national unity, even though their fathers’ presidency sparked some of the most fleeting divisions in the country’s history. Marcos Jr. appealed to be judged “not by my ancestors, but by my actions.”
His father was ousted from power by a largely peaceful pro-democracy uprising in 1986 and died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii without admitting any wrongdoing, including allegations that he, his family and cronies cost an estimated $5 billion. Amassed $10 Billion While He Was In Office.
A Hawaii court later found him liable for human rights violations and awarded $2 billion from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who filed lawsuits against him for torture, incarceration, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
Imelda Marcos and her children were allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991 and have worked on a stunning political comeback, aided by a well-funded social media campaign to revive the family name.
Along the main street of metropolitan Manila are the democracy shrines and monuments erected after the demise of Marcos in 1986. The anniversary of his ouster is celebrated every year as a special national holiday, and a presidential commission still exists that has served for decades. worked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
Marcos Jr. has not explained how he will deal with such grim memories of the past.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Asia-Pacific region at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific