(Manila) Ferdinand Marcos Junior, son of the former Filipino dictator, claimed victory in the presidential election through his spokesman on Wednesday, pledging to be the leader of “all Filipinos”.
“To the world he says, ‘Judge me by my deeds, not my ancestry,'” spokesperson Vic Rodriguez added in a statement.
According to preliminary results covering almost all polling stations, Marcos Junior, 64, nicknamed “Bongbong”, obtained more than 56% of the vote and more than twice as many votes as his main rival, the vice-president. outgoing president Leni Robredo, 57.
This landslide victory marks the stunning return to power of the Marcos family, 36 years after the popular revolt that ousted them.
“I know the counting isn’t complete, it’s not quite official yet, but … I’m still watching the fact that 31 million of our fellow citizens voted for unity,” Mr. Marcos at his headquarters in Manila during his first post-vote press conference, which lasted less than five minutes.
Mr. Marcos, welcomed by jubilant supporters, however, refrained from declaring victory pending the final results.
He has promised to “get to work” as soon as he takes office on June 30, with his government’s priorities being the economy, prices, jobs and education. He declined to answer reporters’ questions after the conference.
After the election, one of Mr. Marcos’ first acts was to visit his father’s grave, “a lifelong inspiration,” his campaign team said Wednesday.
Marcos Senior died in exile in 1989 and his embalmed body was interred in 2016 at the National Heroes Cemetery in Manila, with the approval of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.
Photos posted on “Bongbong’s” official social media accounts show him standing or praying in front of the huge grave.
Before his transfer to Manila, the body of the ex-dictator was kept in a crypt at the family home in the province of Ilocos Norte, in the north of the Philippines.
Marcos Jr called his father a “political genius” and his two decades in power an era of peace and prosperity for the archipelago.
The United States has said it wants to “continue to want to work closely with the Philippines”, both for “a free, open Indo-Pacific region”, but also to “promote human rights”, warned the head of the American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, in a statement.
A little later, Joe Biden congratulated Marcos Jr on the phone. “President Biden stressed that he looks forward to working with the president-elect to continue to strengthen the alliance between the United States and the Philippines, while expanding bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues,” the president said. White House statement, listing the pandemic, climate change, economic growth and “respect for human rights”.
The Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines also congratulated Marcos Jr. “I have no doubt that under the next administration, our bilateral relations will only grow stronger, our people will grow closer, and our cooperation will deepen and broaden,” Huang Xilian said in a statement.
The electoral campaign of Ferdinand Marcos Jr was marked by a vast and often abject campaign of misinformation, ignoring the tens of thousands of opponents arrested, tortured or killed, or even the billions of dollars stolen by the Marcos clan from the coffers of the country for his personal enrichment.
For years, pro-Marcos Junior accounts have invaded social networks, passing off the twenty years of his father’s regime (1965-1986) to young Filipinos as a golden era.
“Bongbong” is the first presidential candidate to win an outright majority since his father was ousted in 1986, forcing his family into exile in the United States.
The story of the once-hated family’s return to grace has overshadowed questions about what a Marcos government would be like.
By dodging televised debates and interviews, the candidate left few clues.
He will be accompanied by Sara Duterte, daughter of the outgoing president, elected very comfortably on Monday as vice-president of the country. The two highest mandates in the country will therefore be occupied by two children of former authoritarian heads of state.
Human rights activists, Catholic prelates and political analysts fear the sweeping victory will empower Mr. Marcos Jr to rule the country with an iron fist.
Supporters of Leni Robredo, who saw the poll as a watershed moment for the Philippines’ fragile democracy, were devastated by her landslide defeat.
Ms Robredo, 57, admitted to being “clearly disappointed” with the outcome, but vowed to continue to fight bad governance.
Mr. Marcos will have to deal with this opposition which could turn into a powerful pro-democracy movement.