Marcos Myth Helps Dictator’s Son Return to Power in Philippines

A 2020 YouTube video said French astrologer Nostradamus predicted the outcome of this week’s Philippine presidential election.

“Jr. Ferdinand ‘Bang Bang’ Marcos was doomed and ready for the time to continue his father’s great plans for the Maharika nation,” the Tagalog film claims, referring to the pre-colonial Filipino warrior class. “He is the most qualified person to be the president of the country.”

While there is no record of such a prophecy, this week Marcos wins A landslide victory in the election could cement the power of both families, which many see as synonymous with authoritarian rule.

Marcos will now follow in the footsteps of his late father, dictator Ferdinand Marcos.He will be sworn in with his vice presidential running mate when he is sworn in for a six-year term in July Sarah Dutertethe daughter of the outgoing populist head of state Rodrigo Duterte, whose tenure has been marked by a reversal in democratic accountability and human rights.

Analysts say Marcos’ family escaped the Malacañang Palace by helicopter in 1986 when he faced a “people power” insurgency, thanks to a carefully planned attack. false information online Revisionism aimed at whitewashing his father’s dictatorship.

However, they said other factors played a big role in his victory, including the family’s strong regional political network and the decision of Duterte’s daughter to run with him.

“The combined Marcos-Duterte vote is very strong,” said Sheila Coronel, a professor at Columbia’s School of Journalism. “Plus, they’ll be competing for votes, not winning office so easily.”

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and running mate Sara Duterte wave Philippine flags during Saturday’s campaign rally © Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The Marcos family’s political base is in Ilocos, in northern Luzon, while the Duterte family is from Davao, in southern Mindanao. Both father and daughter have made their way to the national stage from local politics.

Leni Robredo, the presidential candidate representing the liberal political camp, won less than half of Marcos Jr.’s vote.

“We now have an entire generation joining the voting population who have only seen the austerity that revives our economy after the Marcos era, not the crisis years caused by dictatorships,” said Ronald Mendoza, dean of Ateneo de Manila’s School of Government.

The return of the Marcos family has been in the works for decades. When the late dictator died and they returned from exile in Hawaii in 1991, most institutions in Manila shunned them.

Imelda Marcos lost her presidential bid the following year, but won a congressional seat in 1995. Young Marcos and his sister Ime first entered local politics in Ilocos and then won congressional seats.

At the same time, a parallel effort began to transform Marcos’ late reign, which was marked by repression and economic crisis.The campaign was aided by researchers said Coordinated online propaganda of false historical narratives.

“They’ve been playing this long game, in part, to fill in the gaps in information about martial law, which the history books don’t say much about,” said Jonathan Corpus-Ong, associate professor of global digital media at the University of Massachusetts. Marcos folklore was sown on social media, and they waited for it to get noticed.”

An early example, Ong said, came in 2015, when what he called an “architect of online disinformation” used hashtags and posts to gain support for Marcos’ burial in national honor.Duterte takes power, orders country dictator reburied Heroes Cemetery in Manila.

Marcos narrowly lost to Robredo as vice president in the 2016 national election. But in a country where 82 percent of people use social media and most get their news from it, this year’s campaign is laying the groundwork, according to research consultancy Datareportal.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and newcomer TikTok have all said they have taken steps this year to support election integrity and control the spread of disinformation after being criticized for serving as a tool to help Duterte win the last election and suppress opponents.

Imelda Marcos (second from left), mother of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the former dictator's widow, at a polling station on Election Day

Imelda Marcos, second from left, mother of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the former dictator’s widow, at a polling station on Election Day © Jam Sta Rosa/AFP/Getty Images

Ferdinand Marcos with his wife Imelda by his side and Ferdinand Marcos Jr on the balcony of the Malagayan Palace in 1986.

Ferdinand Marcos with his wife Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos Jr, far right, on the balcony of the Malacañang Palace in 1986 © Bullit Marquez/AP

Yet newscast-style films that recreated the Marcos dictatorship as a golden age are still trending online. Some claim that the Marcos family, who prosecutors say profited from their ill-gotten gains worth billions of dollars, actually got their fortune from gold, or that the Philippines was Asia’s “strongest and most prosperous” during the dictatorship. Dear Nation”.

“The martial law years had a lot of false nostalgia — they were the golden years of the economy and Filipino society,” Mendoza said. “They weren’t: The research provides facts and evidence that those years were terrible for human rights, It’s tragic for the economy.”

Filipinos are now asking what kind of president Marcos Jr. will become. His plans, including managing what was one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia before Covid-19, are largely a mystery because he did not join Robredo or other candidates in the debate.

Duterte lash out Among the leading oligarchs, tangled Relations with the United States over human rights and military pacts have been largely unsuccessful in turning to China, but analysts expect his successor to seek smoother ties with business and diplomatic partners.

Many Filipino business elites support Robredo, but Marcos — like Duterte — could put technocrats in top economic positions.

Duterte has not visited the United States during his presidency, but his daughter’s participation in a leadership program sponsored by the State Department in 2020 may herald a smoother treaty ally with the Philippines.

“Duterte’s departure will unload the U.S.-Philippines relationship,” said Peter Mumford, Southeast Asia analyst at Eurasia Group. “While this is not the ideal outcome Washington was hoping for, it and Beijing are generally happy.”

Additional reporting by Guill Ramos in Manila

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