Marcos family once ousted by uprising wins Philippines vote in landslide

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MANILA — Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator whose family plundered billions of dollars, was elected president of the Philippines by a landslide, according to preliminary results, only 36 years after his father was ousted in a historic revolution.

For critics, it marks a further backslide for a nation — once admired as one of the few democracies in the region — that continues to trudge down the path of populism. Marcos succeeds the tough-talking President Rodrigo Duterte, best known for his crude insults and a war on drugs that has left thousands dead.

His daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is Marcos’s running mate, and the next vice president. The tandem, which has dubbed itself the “Uniteam” for its supposed message of unity, is a political marriage of the country’s two most powerful dynasties.

Early on Tuesday in a speech, Marcos thanked his supporters for their “belief in our message of unity” and their “belief in the candidates.”

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the 64-year-old son of the former Philippines dictator, won the country’s presidential election in a landslide on May 9. (Video: Reuters)

In the Philippines, nostalgia for strongmen trumps democracy

The mood was jubilant as the magnitude of their victory became clear and Marcos’s supporters sang and celebrated in front of the campaign headquarters along the same historic Manila avenue where people protested to oust his father more than three decades ago.

Meanwhile, hundreds of disheartened supporters of his main opponent, Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, flocked to a volunteer center to console one another and tune in to her live-streamed speech.

“We have started something that has never before been seen in our nation’s history: a campaign led by the people,” Robredo said Tuesday morning. “This structure of lies took a long time to build. There will come a time and chance to tear it down.”

Her supporters have suggested that her grass-roots campaign, which brought together diverse swaths of pink-wearing volunteers across sectors, should maintain its momentum and prepare to take on a role as the opposition under the new administration.

Dictator’s son Marcos takes overwhelming lead in Philippines election

“One of the lessons we have to learn from the other camp is, when they lost [in the 2016 vice-presidential race], they started to campaign immediately,” said Mik Afable, a volunteer who organized flash mobs and helped take charge of operations on Monday.

He expressed hope that their movement would be a lasting one, compared to the well-financed Marcos juggernaut. “If you pay for loyalty, it goes away very quickly,” he said.

Marcos’s carefully planned journey to the presidency shows how social media can shape perception and politics in a highly online country, which has been dubbed the “patient zero” of disinformation after Duterte first won with the help of troll farms in 2016.

As president, Marcos will rule over an archipelago of about 110 million ravaged by the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, where around a fifth of the population is below the poverty line. He is also expected to continue the…

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