Manila, Philippines –
The eponymous son of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appeared to have been elected Philippine president in a landslide in a stunning setback to the 1986 “People Power” pro-democracy revolt that brought his father to global infamy.
Marcos Jr. garnered more than 30.5 million votes in the unofficial results with more than 96% of the votes tabulated overnight after Monday’s election. His closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights and reform, had $14.5 million, and boxing great Manny Pacquiao appeared to have the third-highest total at $3.5 million.
His running mate, Sara Duterte, the outgoing leader’s daughter and mayor of the southern city of Davao, had a formidable lead in the vice-presidential race, which is separate from the presidential race.
The alliance of the descendants of two authoritarian leaders combined the voting power of their families’ political strongholds in the north and south, but aggravated the concerns of human rights activists.
Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte avoided volatile issues during their campaign and stuck firmly to the rallying cry of national unity, even as their parents’ presidencies opened up some of the most turbulent divisions in the country’s history.
Marcos Jr. has not claimed victory, but he thanked his supporters in a late-night “address to the nation” video, urging them to stay vigilant until the vote count is complete.
“If we are lucky, I hope your help will not wane, your confidence will not wane because we have a lot of things to do in the times ahead,” he said.
Robredo did not admit defeat, but acknowledged Marcos Jr.’s huge advantage in the unofficial count. He told his supporters that the fight for reforms and democracy will not end with the elections.
“The voice of the people is becoming clearer,” he said. “On behalf of the Philippines, which I know you love so much too, we should listen to this voice because, in the end, we only have this nation to share.”
He called on his supporters to continue to stand up: “Push for the truth. It took a long time to erect the structure of lies. Now we have the time and opportunity to fight and dismantle this.”
The winner of the election will take office on June 30 for a one-time six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hit hard by two years of COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns and long afflicted by crushing poverty, the enormous inequalities, Muslims and communists. insurgencies and deep political divisions.
The next president is also likely to face lawsuits to impeach outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of murders during his anti-drug campaign, deaths already under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Marcos Jr., a 64-year-old former provincial governor, congressman and senator, had a wide lead in pre-election polls. But Robredo had seized on the shock and outrage at the prospect of Marcos regaining the seat of power and harnessed a network of campaign volunteers to back his candidacy.
After his overthrow in the largely peaceful uprising of 1986, the elder Marcos died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii without admitting to any wrongdoing, including allegations that he, his family and his cronies amassed between $5 billion and $10 billion while he was there. in the power. A Hawaii court later found him responsible for human rights violations and awarded $2 billion from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who sued him for torture, imprisonment, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
His widow, Imelda Marcos, and their children were allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991 and worked a stunning political comeback, aided by a well-funded social media campaign to restore the family name.
Marcos Jr. 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 strongman rule.
Officials said Monday’s election was relatively peaceful despite pockets of violence in the country’s volatile south that killed at least four people in the country’s volatile south. Thousands of police and military were deployed to protect polling stations, especially in rural regions with a history of violent political rivalry.
Filipinos formed long lines to cast their ballots, and the start of voting was delayed by a few hours in some areas due to voting machine malfunctions, power outages, bad weather and other problems.
Aside from the presidency, more than 18,000 government posts were on the ballot, including half of the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as provincial and local offices across the archipelago.
In the 2016 vice-presidential race, Robredo narrowly defeated Marcos Jr. in their first political matchup. He waged a years-long legal battle against his victory, alleging fraud, which was defeated but never conceded.