Facing headwinds and history, Marcos makes a political speech

Manila, Philippines –

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his first State of the Union address on Monday on the back of his landslide election victory, but he is transfixed by history as the son of a ousted dictator and overwhelming economic headwinds.

More than 20,000 police, riot squads and troops were deployed to Metro Manila, where a weapons ban has been imposed, to secure the afternoon ceremony before a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives.

Some 5,000 flag-waving protesters were allowed to march until noon along a key highway away from Congress. They issued a variety of demands, from government aid and fuel subsidies amid rising costs of living to justice for human rights victims under the father of Marcos Jr., a late dictator who was ousted in 1986 in a pro-democracy uprising of the “Popular power”.

Marcos Jr. was asked to outline a clear road map of the economic hardship brought on by two years of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and the global fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Marcos Jr. must realize that he is no longer in the middle of an election campaign, where he could get away with refusing to attend debates and relying on empty phrases and superficial slogans,” the left-wing group Akbayan said. “The people demand clarity of vision and sense of action.”

Executive Secretary Vic Rodríguez said last week that Marcos Jr. would reveal his strategy for economic recovery amid continued threats from the coronavirus and rising inflation.

The president would lay out plans to prepare the country for an impending food crisis, prompting him to decide to temporarily serve as secretary of agriculture, and the safe resumption of in-person school classes starting next month, Rodríguez said.

Marcos Jr. received more than 31 million votes out of the more than 55 million votes cast in the May 9 election, a stunning political comeback and a major victory that will provide him with political capital as he faces tremendous challenges and doubts arising from his father’s reputation. It was the first majority presidential victory in the Philippines in decades.

His allies also heavily dominated both houses of Congress in the elections, with his cousin, Rep. Martín Romualdez, being elected president of the chamber and another close ally, Juan Miguel Zubiri, as president of the Senate on Monday.

With the tremendous domestic problems he faces along with the historical baggage that plagues him, Marcos Jr. is one of the most challenged leaders in the country’s recent history. His huge electoral mandate could be eroded if people do not feel significant relief from his difficulties under his rule, said Jean Franco, a professor at the University of the Philippines.

“I’m not so sure how long the rest of the 31 million will hold on to Marcos Jr., especially if the economic crisis continues,” Franco said, adding that the new president did not have the tough, populist image that sustained ratings. audience. of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, tall.

Marcos Jr.’s father was overthrown by a largely peaceful “People Power” revolt in 1986 and died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii without admitting to any wrongdoing, including allegations that he, his family and associates amassed between 5,000 and 10,000 million dollars. billion while he was in office.

Later, a Hawaii court found the elder Marcos responsible for human rights violations and awarded $2 billion to more than 9,000 Filipinos who sued him for torture, imprisonment, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

But Marcos Jr., a former governor, congressman and senator, has refused to acknowledge the massive human rights abuses and corruption that marked his father’s strongman rule.

The Philippines has been among the worst hit countries in Asia by the pandemic two years after more than 60,000 deaths and lengthy lockdowns sent the economy into its worst recession in 2020 since World War II and worsened poverty, unemployment, hunger and the situation in the country. indebtedness.

While the pandemic was winding down earlier this year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spiked global inflation and sparked fears of food and oil shortages.


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Associated Press writers Joeal Calupitan and Aaron Favila contributed to this report.

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