Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late Philippine dictator and eponymous, has been sworn in as the country’s new president.
Marcos Jr.’s inauguration on Thursday marked a stunning comeback for one of Asia’s most prominent political dynasties, today 36 years after the elder Marcos was overthrown in a popular uprising and forced into exile.
Marcos, 64, nicknamed “Bang Bang,” won a rare landslide victory in last month’s presidential election, which critics said was aided by a years-long campaign to whitewash the family’s image.
Marcos succeeds Rodrigo Duterte, who gained notoriety for his deadly war on drugs and threatened to kill suspected drug dealers after leaving office.
The new president delivered a speech that echoed the campaign slogan of unity, pledging to adopt policies that benefit everyone, take the country farther under his leadership, and thank the public for what he called “the most important thing in the history of Philippine democracy.” important electoral task”.
“You won’t be disappointed, so don’t be afraid,” he said at the inauguration surrounded by his immediate family, his sister, Senator Amy, and 92-year-old mother, four-term congressman Imay Elda is sitting nearby.
Marcos Jr. also praised his late father’s rule, but said his presidency was not about the past but about a better future.
“I once knew a man who has seen what has been accomplished since independence. But he sometimes got the job done with the necessary support, and sometimes he didn’t,” he said. “So will his son. You won’t get any excuses from me.”
The late Marcos’ 20-year rule over the Philippines from 1965, nearly half of which was under martial law, helped him expand his grip on power until he was overthrown by the People Power Revolution in 1986, And his family was in exile. Tens of thousands of opponents were imprisoned, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the surname became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from the treasury.
The Marcos family has rejected allegations of embezzlement.
Activists and survivors of the martial law era led by his father protested against Marcos Jr.’s inauguration, which took place at noon on the steps of the National Museum of Manila. More than 15,000 police, soldiers and coastguard personnel were deployed across the capital to ensure safety.
“The road ahead is tough”
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Arindogan reported from Manila that Marcos faced a “difficult” presidency.
“Marcos Jr.’s inauguration was a lot more grand than his predecessors. There was a parade and a bigger-than-usual spectacle, which is a hallmark of the Marcos family,” she said. “But it will be a difficult road for his administration. The country is facing its worst economic setback in decades, with an education and public health system in crisis and a deeply polarized society.”
Voters are counting on the former senator and congressman, who campaigned on the slogan “United, we’ll rise again,” to deliver on his promise to create jobs and lower consumer prices in a country of 110 million people, which has nearly a quarter of One of the people lives on less than $2 a day.
Marcos Jr., self-made agriculture secretary, said in his inaugural address that he would improve food supplies, infrastructure, waste management and energy supplies, and fully support millions of Filipino overseas workers.
“I fully understand the importance of the responsibility you have placed on my shoulders. I will not take it lightly, I am ready for this task,” he said.
“I’ll get it done.”
The Manila-based writer, columnist and scholar specializing in politics, Richard Heydarian, said Marcos’ “number one priorities” will and should be achieved in the next six months and first year Economic recovery.
“This will set the tone for what his administration will do for years to come.”
Days before Marcos’ inauguration, activists made a final attempt to block him, when the Supreme Court rejected a petition that sought to disqualify Marcos from the presidency over his decades-old tax crimes.
Opponents of the new leader fear he will use his victory to consolidate his power.
The left-wing “New Patriotic Union” warned: “Jr. Marcos refuses to acknowledge past abuses and wrongdoings and instead refers to the dictatorship as the ‘golden years’, making him likely to carry on a dark legacy during his term.”
“Wow, did this really happen?” asked Bonifacio Iragan, a 70-year-old activist who was detained and tortured by forces suppressing the insurgency during the rule of Marcos Sr. .
“It’s been a nightmare for martial law victims like me.”