Victory in Philippines elections restores Marcos to power and polarization

  • Marcus leads in the unofficial tally by a large margin over his rivals
  • Philippine stocks fall, but rise after the elections
  • About 400 anti-Marcos protesters gathered in front of the polling station

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines awoke to a new but familiar political dawn on Tuesday after Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s election victory paved the way for a previously unimaginable return to the country’s highest office of the most famous political dynasty.

Marcos, better known as “Pong Pong,” defeated arch-rival Lenny Robredo to become the first candidate in modern history to win a majority in the Philippines’ presidential election, marking the stunning return of the son of a deposed dictator of the same name, whose creation took decades to make. . Read more

Marcos fled into exile in Hawaii with his family during the 1986 “people power” uprising that ended his father’s 20-year autocratic rule, and has served in Congress and the Senate since returning to the Philippines in 1991.

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Marcos’ runaway victory in Monday’s election now appears certain, with 96% of eligible votes counted in an unofficial count, showing he has more than 30 million votes, twice as many as Robredo.

An official result is expected towards the end of the month.

“There are thousands of you volunteers, parallel groups and political leaders who have thrown so much with us because of our belief in the message of unity,” Marcus said in a statement posted on Facebook, standing next to the national flag.

Although Marcos, 64, campaigned on a unity platform, political analysts say his presidency is unlikely to boost that, despite the margin of victory.

Philippine shares (.PSI) fell about 3% on Tuesday, tracking weakness in global stocks, but analysts also pointed to concerns about Marcos’ victory, particularly his financial implications if he fulfills his pledges to support food and fuel.

The peso rose from now on by 0.3% against the dollar.

Many millions of Robredo voters are outraged by what they see as a shameless attempt by the former First Family’s disgraceful attempt to use their mastery of social media to reinvent historical narratives about their time in power.

Thousands of Marcos Sr.’s opponents suffered persecution during the brutal 1972-1981 martial law era, and the family name became synonymous with plunder, nepotism and extravagant living, with billions of dollars of state wealth disappearing.

The Marcos family has denied any wrongdoing, and many of its supporters, bloggers and social media influencers say the historical accounts are distorted.

Students in protest stage

About 400 people, mostly students, staged a protest in front of the Election Commission on Tuesday against Marcos, citing electoral irregularities.

The Election Commission, which has said the election was relatively peaceful, is due to rule on petitions seeking to overturn its dismissal of complaints trying to prevent Marcos from running in the presidential race on Tuesday.

The Karapatan human rights group called on Filipinos to reject Marcos’ new presidency, which it said was built on lies and disinformation to “remove bad smells from Marcos’ hateful image”.

Marcus, who steered clear of debates and interviews during the campaign, praised his father as a genius and statesman, but was also irked by questions about the martial law era.

As the vote count showed how much Marcos won, Robredo asked her supporters to continue their struggle for the truth until the next election.

“It took time to build the structures of lies,” she said. “We have the time and opportunity to fight and dismantle them.”

Marcos offered few clues down the campaign trail for what his political agenda would look like, but he is widely expected to closely follow outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who has targeted big infrastructure work, close ties with China and robust growth. Duterte’s tough leadership style has earned him huge support.

Greg Pauling, a Southeast Asia analyst from the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Washington needs to deal with Manila rather than criticizing the “democratic headwinds plaguing the Philippines.”

“This is not the end of Philippine democracy, although it may hasten its erosion,” Pauling said.

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Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales, writing by Martin Petty, editing by Ed Davies

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