Protests Erupt in the Philippines as Elections Return a Marcos to the Presidency

FILE PHOTO.  Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, speaks during a campaign rally in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.  February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David
FILE PHOTO. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, speaks during a campaign rally in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. February 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

By Karen Lema and Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines woke up to a new but familiar political landscape on Tuesday, after the electoral triumph of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. paved the way for the previously unimaginable return of the country’s best-known political dynasty to the highest magistracy.

Marcos, better known as “Bongbong”, prevailed over his bitter rival Leni Robredo and became the first candidate in recent history to obtain an absolute majority in the Philippine presidential elections, which was an amazing return of the son and namesake of an overthrown dictator that has been decades in the making.

Marcos fled into exile in Hawaii with his family during the 1986 “people power” uprising that ended his father’s 20-year autocratic rule, and has served in Congress and the Senate since his return to the Philippines. in 1991.

Marcos’ landslide victory in Monday’s election now appears certain, with some 98% of the ballot papers counted in an unofficial tally showing him with almost 31 million votes, twice as many as Robredo.

The official result is expected by the end of the month.

“There are thousands of you out there, volunteers, parallel groups, political leaders who have cast their lot with us because of our belief in our message of unity,” Marcos said in a statement posted on Facebook, standing next to the Philippine flag. .

Although Marcos, 64, campaigned on a platform of unity, political analysts say his presidency is unlikely to foster it, despite the margin of victory.

Philippine stocks fell 3% on Tuesday before paring losses. The drop followed weakness in global equities, although analysts cited uncertainty over what policies Marcos might pursue.

“Investors would like to see their economic team,” said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank in Manila. The peso, meanwhile, rose 0.4% against the dollar.

Many of Robredo’s millions of voters are angered by what they see as a brazen attempt by the former first family to use his dominance of social media to reinvent historical narratives of his time in power.

Thousands of opponents of the elder Marcos suffered persecution during the brutal martial law era of 1972 to 1981 and the family name became synonymous with looting, cronyism and extravagant living, with billions of dollars of state wealth disappearing. .

The Marcos family has denied any wrongdoing, and many of their supporters, bloggers and social media influencers say historical accounts are distorted.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; writing by Martin Petty; Spanish editing by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)

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