Friday Dec 08, 2023

Philippines declares Ferdinand ‘Bongbong‘ Marcos Jr as next president

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A joint session of Philippines Congress has declared Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the notorious late dictator, the winner of this month’s election and confirmed he will become the country’s next president.

The proclamation on Wednesday formalises the once unimaginable return to power of the country’s most famous political dynasty, after a 1986 “people power” revolt drove the Marcoses from the presidential palace and into exile in Hawaii.

Mr Marcos, 64, better known as “Bongbong”, takes over on June 30 from Rodrigo Duterte and will serve until 2028, with the incumbent president’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, his vice president.

“President-elect Bongbong Marcos and vice president elect Sara Duterte were truly rock stars. However, the greater task of the victors today is to unite our countrymen,” Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri told the joint session.

Mr Marcos won 31.6 million votes, or 58.77 per cent of ballots cast, with an 82 per cent turnout.

Mr Marcos won by a margin not seen since before his father’s autocratic, 1965-1986 rule, an era characterised by corruption, martial law and unashamed extravagance of the first family, a narrative his campaign sought to upend.

Mr Marcos’s wife and three sons were also present in Congress, where their family has won a seat in almost every election since its return from exile in the 1990s.

Also attending was 92-year-old mother Imelda, the influential power-broker, who received loud applause from the house as she posed for pictures.

He is almost certain to command a legislative supermajority, with sister Imee a senator, son Ferdinand a congressman and cousin Martin Romualdez, the house majority leader, expected to be named speaker, demonstrating the extent of the power the family is expected to hold.

Mr Marcos Jr campaigned almost entirely on a vague platform of unity and skipped debates and most media appearances. He relied on social media publicity from pro-Marcos influencers and vloggers granted access to his campaign.

He has since said his focus areas will be energy prices, jobs, infrastructure and education.

Mr Marcos’s team is still assembling his cabinet, which will need to navigate high inflation and government debt and a tricky foreign policy balance with ally the United States and an increasingly influential China.

Despite the margin of victory, Mr Marcos’s rule will be divisive, with widespread anger among opponents and victims of martial law persecution over what they see as historical revisionism to clear his family’s name.

Imee Marcos on Wednesday said the family was “very, very grateful for a second chance” in power.

“Our family went through a lot after 1986,” she told reporters.


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