The eponymous son of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appeared to have been elected Philippine president by a landslide in an astonishing reversal of the pro-democracy “People Power” uprising of 1986 that ousted his father.
Marcos Jr. had over 30.8 million votes in the unofficial results with over 97% of the vote on Tuesday afternoon. His closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, a human rights campaigner, had 14.7 million votes in Monday’s election, and boxing great Manny Pacquiao appeared to have the third-highest total with 3.5 million.
His running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing leader and mayor of the southern city of Davao, had a formidable lead in the separate vice presidential race.
The alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders combined the voting rights of their families’ political strongholds in the north and south, but exacerbated the concerns of human rights activists.
Dozens of anti-Marcos protesters gathered at the Elections Commission and blamed the agency for the breakdown of vote counting machines and other problems that prevented people from casting their votes. Election officials said the impact of the malfunctioning machines was minimal.
A group of activists, who suffered under the dictatorship, said they were outraged by Marcos’s apparent victory and would oppose it.
“A possible victory based on a campaign based on blatant lies, historical distortions and mass deception is tantamount to cheating your way to victory,” said the group Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, or CARMMA. “This is not acceptable.”
Etta Rosales, a former Human Rights Commission chair who was twice arrested and tortured under martial law in the 1970s, said Marcos Jr.’s apparent victory. brought her to tears, but didn’t stop her from continuing her efforts to hold the Marcoses to account. †
“I am just one of many who were tortured; others were murdered, I was raped. We have suffered under the Marcos regime in the fight for justice and freedom and this is happening,” Rosales said.
Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte avoided fleeting trouble during their campaign and held steadfast to a rallying cry of national unity, though their father’s presidency opened up some of the most turbulent divisions in the country’s history.
Marcos Jr. did not claim the victory, but thanked his supporters in a nightly “speech to the nation” video, urging them to remain vigilant until the vote count is complete.
“If we are lucky, I expect that your help will not diminish, your confidence will not decrease because we have a lot to do in the coming time,” he said.
Robredo did not admit defeat, but acknowledged Marcos Jr.’s huge lead. in the unofficial count. She told her supporters that the struggle for reform and democracy will not end with the election.
“The voice of the people is becoming clearer,” she said. “In the name of the Philippines, which I know you love so much, we should hear this voice, because in the end we only have one nation to share.”
She asked her supporters to continue to stand up: “Press for the truth. It took a long time for the structure of lies to be established. We now have the time and the opportunity to fight and dismantle this.”
The election winner will take office on June 30 for a single six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hit hard by two years of COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns and long plagued by crushing poverty, gaping inequalities , Muslim and Communist uprisings and deep political divisions.
The next president is also likely to face demands to prosecute outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of murders during his drug crackdown — deaths already under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Amnesty International said it was very concerned about Marcos Jr.’ and Sara Duterte’s avoidance of discussing human rights violations, past and present, in the Philippines. “If confirmed, the Marcos Jr. administration will face a wide range of pressing human rights challenges,” the rights group said in a statement on Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch also called Marcos Jr. to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines when he took office.
“He should end the ‘war on drugs’ that has led to the extrajudicial killing of thousands of Filipinos and order the impartial investigation and appropriate prosecution of the officials responsible for these unlawful killings,” said Phil Robertson. , deputy director of the group. for Asia.
Marcos Jr., a 64-year-old former provincial governor, congressman and senator, has defended his father’s legacy and steadfastly refused to acknowledge and apologize for the massive human rights violations and looting under his father’s rule.
After his ouster by the largely peaceful 1986 uprising, the elder Marcos died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii without admitting any wrongdoing, including allegations that he, his family, and cronies amassed an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion. while he was in power. 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.
His widow, Imelda Marcos, and their 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.
With pole wires