Who is 'Bongbong' Marcos, new Philippine leader & son of ousted president?

Almost four decades after Marcos was ousted, Filipinos elected his son as president.

Kayla Wong | May 10, 2022, 07:12 PM

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The son of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, has won the Philippines' presidential election in a landslide victory.

According to Inquirer, an unofficial tally showed that Marcos Jr had nearly 30 million votes as of early Tuesday morning, which was a whopping 96 per cent of the eligible ballots that were counted.

His vote share was double that of his rival, Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo.

Official results are likely to be released at the end of the month, according to Reuters.

As the first candidate in recent history to win a majority in a presidential election, his victory marks the Marcos family's return to power after 36 years.

Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of current President Duterte who is unable to seek reelection, is also set to be elected as vice president, revealing that Duterte remains popular among the people.

Son of ousted president

Marcos Jr was the second child and only son of Ferdinand Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972 to crack down on growing dissent.

At the time, Marcos was due to leave office as it was a year before his second term as president was due to expire, according to the BBC. But instead, he chose to declare martial law.

During the nine years of martial law, however, his regime was accused of human rights abuses, including the arbitrary detainment of tens of thousands of people, including his opponents, as well as torture, mysterious disappearances and killings.

According to AFP, Marcos Jr was in boarding school in the UK at the time.

The Marcos family were also accused of corruption during their rule, having been found to have stolen an estimated US$10 billion (S$13.9 billion) worth of public funds during their rule, CNN Philippines reported. Only US$4 billion (S$5.6 billion) was recovered.

His wife, Imelda Marcos, a former governor and politician herself, infamously left behind a massive collection of 3,000 designer shoes at the presidential palace after the family fled to Hawaii in exile.

Image via Joel Nito/AFP/Getty Images

Family's controversial legacy

The Marcos reign took place amid one of the worst recessions in the country's history, when unemployment rate peaked as well.

In 1986, however, after nearly 21 years in power, Marcos was booted out of office by the Filipino people.

Triggered by the assassination of a popular political opponent Benigno Aquino Jr, over a million people took to the streets to overthrow his regime -- described as "brutal" by historian Joseph Salice -- in what was called the People Power revolution.

Marcos rapidly lost support during his last days in office as military generals revolted against him -- the majority of the armed forces eventually turned against him. After he was ousted, the nation erupted in celebration.

Following the people's uprising, his family fled in exile to Hawaii, and Marcos died just three years later in 1989. Marcos Jr subsequently returned to the Philippines two years after his father's death.

He served as a provincial governor, a congressman, and a senator.

Defending his family's reign

The 64-year-old Marcos Jr has defended his father's rule, saying the country's "dire" situation made it necessary for the older Marcos to declare martial law.

He also painted the difficult years under his father as a golden era through what critics referred to as misinformation and "outright lies", although statistics show that the country's GDP contracted in the 1980s to as low as -7.32 in 1984, according to Inquirer.

He had also vowed to create more jobs and mitigate the damage to the economy due to the pandemic as well. However, analysts say he lacks a clear direction in his plans for the country after he takes power, according to Nikkei Asia.

Even before his election, uncertainty over his policies had caused the Philippine stock market to fluctuate.

Furthermore, despite having campaigned on his slogan of "unity", analysts cited by Reuters say his presidency is not likely to bring about that for the country, despite the sizeable share of vote count that he won.

Victims of the Marcos regime had voiced out against the return of the former president's son. To this date, no one in the family was jailed as trials for tax fraud and corruption were dragged on for decades, AFP reported.

It has also been speculated that after taking office as president, Marcos Jr might use his power to stop the government from recovering the large amount of money plundered by his father which is still unaccounted for.

Nevertheless, it remains a fact that tens of millions of Filipinos had cast their vote for Marcos Jr, with their disillusionment towards post-Marcos political reforms likely contributing to a rosy outlook regarding a return to Marcos rule, therefore leading to his sweep to power.

Top image via Getty Images