Philippines votes polarized around Marcos

By Federico Segarra

Manila, May 6 (EFE).- The probable return to power of the Marcos dynasty to the presidency after Monday’s elections has polarized the Philippines, relegating problems such as unleashed inflation, high unemployment and the economic stagnation resulting from the pandemic.

Everything seems to indicate “Bongbong” Marcos, son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, will take over the presidency and replace the controversial Rodrigo Duterte. The latest poll published Thursday showed an intention to vote for Marcos Jr. of 57 percent.

As his undisputed favorite, Marcos has kept a low profile during the campaign, has not participated in debates and has given few interviews in which he insists on a vague idea of ​​national unity. Little is known about his specific proposals for the country, apart from creating jobs and investing in infrastructure, in line with Duterte’s policies.

His followers don’t question it. “Marcos wants the best for the Philippines, so that we shine again,” said Boy George, a 25-year-old bricklayer, as he rested on a plastic chair in Pembo, a suburb of the Makati district, in the southeast of the Manila metropolitan area.

“Bongbong loves the Filipinos, he loves this country. I think he is real, and his father was a good president,” said Irving R., 36, as he parked his cars in front of a shopping center.

This visceral support contrasts with the strong rejection the candidate generates in a part of the country’s population at the idea that the corrupt dynasty returns to power.

The Marcos family in 1986 fled the country to their exile in Hawaii after a peaceful popular revolution that ended up overthrowing the dictator, who died on the American island three years later.

Subsequent investigations revealed at least 3,257 people accused of dissidence were summarily executed, thousands were tortured and some $ 10 billion were stolen from the public treasury during the years of the Martial Law imposed by Marcos according to figures. The probe was led by the Good Government Commission, a national body created to recover the usurped funds.

“If they want a return to the dark times and uncontrolled corruption, go ahead and vote for Marcos,” Melanie Rodriguez, a 51-year-old from Manila, said about Marcos while having a coffee at a Starbucks in the wealthy neighborhood of Fort Bonifacio.

The opposition to Marcos Jr has been brought together mainly by candidate Leni Robredo, current vice president and human rights lawyer, who with a more feminist agenda, focused on fighting corruption, promoting public education and reducing poverty. She would get 25 percent of the votes, according to the latest polls.

At an electoral rally in Robredo at the end of April on the outskirts of Manila, where thousands of young volunteers – many of them from the LGTBI community – Jazz Armiento, a 21-year-old student from Pampanga, highlighted the “cleanliness of her political record.”

“If she is elected, she will end corruption and help the poor, we need to vote for her to save ourselves from the Marcos,” said Armiento with an energetic and determined gesture.

Both the age of the voters, most of whom were not born during the harsh years of the dictatorship or were too young to remember it, as well as their economic and educational level, are decisive when it comes to this position that divides the Philippines. It comes in the face of elections in which more than 67 million of the 108 million population are registered to vote.

“The differences in preferences by socioeconomic strata are evident,” Dean Dela Paz, a veteran journalist and expert in national politics, told EFE, adding that support for Marcos is overwhelmingly concentrated among the population with lower levels of education. H said Leni Robredo arouses sympathy especially among the most educated minority in the country. EFE


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