On Thursday, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took the oath of office as president of the Philippines, concluding a long campaign to reinstate the dynasty in the position.
At the National Museum in Manila, hundreds of local and foreign dignitaries, journalists, and fans watched as Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the country’s late dictator’s son and namesake, took his oath.
The 64-year-old Marcos Jr., sometimes known as “Bongbong,” won a rare landslide victory in last month’s presidential election thanks to what detractors have claimed was a years-long effort to improve his family’s reputation.
Rodrigo Duterte, who garnered notoriety for his bloody drug war and promised to execute suspected dealers after leaving office, is succeeded by him.
In a speech that reflected his unifying campaign themes, the incoming president pledged to advance the nation under his leadership with policies that benefited all citizens. He also thanked the people for giving him what he called “the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”
In front of his immediate family, including his mother Imelda, 92, a former four-term congressman, and sister Imee, a senator, he stated, “You will not be disappointed, so do not be scared,” at the inaugural ceremony.
While praising his late father’s administration, Marcos Jr. claimed that his presidency was not about the past but rather a better future.
He stated, “I once knew a man who observed how little had been accomplished since independence, yet he got it done sometimes with the necessary support, sometimes without. “His son will experience the same. I won’t accept any apologies from you.
The late Marcos controlled the Philippines from 1965 until his downfall and family’s flight into exile during the 1986 People Power Revolution. Nearly half of this time was spent under martial law, which helped him maintain his hold on power. During his leadership, thousands of opponents of the Marcos family were imprisoned, killed, or vanished, and the family name came to stand for cronyism, excess, and the theft of billions of dollars from state coffers.
Accusations of embezzlement have been debunked by the Marcos family.
Tough road ahead
Marcos Jr. will have a “challenging” administration, according to Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, who was reporting from Manila.
“Marcos Jr’s inauguration is far more grand than that of his predecessors. There’s parades and more pomp than usual, which has been a trademark of the Marcos family,” she said. “But it is expected to be a tough road ahead for his administration. The country is facing its worst economic setback in decades, as well as an education and public health system in crisis, and a deeply polarised society.”
In a nation of 110 million people, nearly a quarter of whom live on less than $2 per day, voters are looking on the former senator and congressman to keep his word regarding promises to increase employment and lower consumer prices.
In his inauguration address, Marcos Jr., who has appointed himself minister of agriculture, pledged to enhance infrastructure, waste management, energy supply, food sufficiency, and support for the millions of Filipino workers working abroad.
“I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility you put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly but I am ready for the task,” he said.
“I’ll complete it,”
The economic recovery over the ensuing six months and the first year should be Marcos Jr.’s “number one priority,” according to Richard Heydarian, a political novelist, writer, and scholar based in Manila.
The tone of his administration going forward will be determined by that.
A final-ditch effort by campaigners to stop Marcos Jr. from taking office failed when the Supreme Court rejected petitions seeking to disqualify him for tax offenses committed decades ago. Days later, Marcos Jr. was inaugurated.
Opponents of the new leader worry that he’ll utilize his triumph to consolidate his position of authority.
“Marcos Jr’s refusal to recognise the abuses and wrongdoings of the past, in fact lauding the dictatorship as ‘golden years’, makes him very likely to continue its dark legacy during his term,” warned left-wing alliance Bayan.
Is this actually happening, wow? questioned Bonifacio Ilagan, a 70-year-old activist who was imprisoned and subjected to horrific torture by anti-insurgency agents during the regime of the elder Marcos.
“This is a nightmare for martial law victims like me.”