Home CRYPTO Ferdinand Marcos Jr sworn in as Philippines president

Ferdinand Marcos Jr sworn in as Philippines president

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the Philippines’s late dictator, has been sworn in as the country’s new president.

Marcos Jr’s inauguration on Thursday marks a stunning political comeback for one of Asia’s most famous political dynasties, 36 years after the elder Marcos was toppled and forced into exile in a popular uprising.

Known as “Bongbong”, the 64-year-old Marcos Jr won a rare landslide victory in last month’s presidential election, helped by what critics have said was a years-long campaign to whitewash his family’s image.

He succeeds Rodrigo Duterte, who gained international notoriety for his deadly drug war and has threatened to kill suspected dealers after he leaves office. Duterte’s daughter, Sara, is Marcos Jr’s vice president.

Marcos Jr took his oath of office at midday local time (04:00 GMT) in a public ceremony at the National Museum in Manila in front of hundreds of local and foreign dignitaries and journalists.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and United States Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, are among foreign dignitaries attending the noontime ceremony.

More than 15,000 police, soldiers and coast guard personnel were deployed across the capital to ensure security, with activists and survivors of the martial law era under the elder Marcos planning protests timed to the new president’s inauguration.

Filipino activists burn effigies depicting incoming Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and Vice President Sara Duterte during a protest denouncing their election in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, May 25, 2022 [File: Lisa Marie David/ Reuters]

The late Marcos ruled the Philippines for two decades from 1965, almost half of it under martial law, helping him to extend his grip on power until his overthrow and his family’s retreat into exile during the 1986 “people power” revolution. Thousands of Marcos opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from state coffers.

The Marcos family has rejected accusations of embezzlement, and following his victory, Marcos Jr appealed to be judged “not by my ancestors, but by my actions”.

‘Tough road ahead’

Voters are counting on the former senator and congressman, who campaigned on the slogan “together, we shall rise again”, to deliver on pledges to create jobs and bring down consumer prices in a country of 110 million people, nearly a quarter of whom live on less than $2 per day.

Marcos Jr has promised to hit the ground running and has even appointed himself agriculture minister, citing the urgent need to boost production to prevent food shortages and help manage prices.

Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Manila, said Marcos Jr faced a “tough” presidency.

“Marcos Jr’s inauguration is far more grand than that of his predecessors. There’s parades and more pomp than usual, which has been a trademark of the Marcos family,” she said. “But it is expected to be a tough road ahead for his administration. The country is facing its worst economic setback in decades, as well as an education and public health system in crisis, and a deeply polarised society.”

Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based author, columnist and academic who specialises in politics, said Marcos Jr’s “number one priority will be, and should be, economic recovery over the next six months and first year”.

“That will set the tone for his administration for the years to come.”

Marcos Jr’s inauguration comes days after a last-ditch attempt by activists to thwart the president-elect failed when the Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking to disqualify him for tax offences decades ago.

The new leader’s opponents fear he could use his victory to entrench himself in power.

“Marcos Jr’s refusal to recognise the abuses and wrongdoings of the past, in fact lauding the dictatorship as ‘golden years’, makes him very likely to continue its dark legacy during his term,” warned left-wing alliance Bayan.

On foreign policy, Marcos Jr said last month he would adopt a “friends to all, enemy to none” approach.

Unlike Duterte, who pivoted away from the US towards China, Marcos Jr has insisted he would uphold an international ruling against Beijing over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Separately, while Marcos Jr has backed Duterte’s drug war, which has killed thousands of mostly poor men, analysts say he is not likely to enforce it as aggressively.

“I think the Philippine political elite are ready to move on from a violence-led drug war,” said Greg Wyatt, director for business intelligence at PSA Philippines Consultancy.

“The drug war attracted enough negative attention.”

 

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