Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the timid candidate of the presidential elections in the Philippines

Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, gestures as he speaks during a campaign rally in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David (LISA MARIE DAVID/)

With two months to go before the Philippine presidential election, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son of the late dictator, keeps a low profile on the campaign trail, unwilling to face difficult interviews or debates with the other candidates that could expose his weaknesses and jeopardize his enormous advantage in the polls.

The 64-year-old senator alleged a “tight agenda” to avoid debate with the other candidates on the CNN Philippines television channel in February, while a month earlier he had hidden behind the alleged lack of objectivity of the GMA network in order not to attend a three-hour interview along with four other candidates.

Protected by his great propaganda machinery on social networks and with the quasi-certainty of his victory according to the polls (they give him an intention to vote close to 60 percent), analysts interpret this allergy to the spotlight as a fear of losing a presidency. that almost seems to touch with the fingers.

Marcos avoids debates
Marcos avoids debates “because that would put him in a very difficult situation in which he has to answer uncomfortable questions about his family’s past, marked by a lot of corruption, looting of government resources and massive human rights abuses.” REUTERS/Lisa Marie David/File Photo

Temario Rivera, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of the Philippines, explains to Efe that Marcos avoids debates “because that would put him in a very difficult situation in which he has to answer uncomfortable questions about his family’s past, marked by a lot of corruption, looting of government resources and massive human rights abuses.”

According to Transparency International, Ferdinand Marcos (who governed between 1965 and 1986 and died in 1989) illicitly appropriated some 10,000 million dollars, while it is estimated that 3,257 people have been summarily executed, 70,000 imprisoned and 34,000 tortured since he decreed Martial Law in 1972.

Faced with the arrogance he showed in the past, such as when in 1999 he accused victims of torture of wanting money and being “victims of their own greed”, Marcos now tiptoes around this issue, diverting attention to his electoral slogan of “unified leadership” and claiming to talk about the future.

REUTERS/Lisa Marie David


However, it is in the past, or in its interpretation, where its great electoral strength lies. “Bongbong” Marcos and his team have built the story of a more prosperous and orderly Philippines in the times of the dictator in the face of the current misery of the immense shantytowns, drug addiction, crime and instability in the south with the insurgent groups Muslims.

”They have succeeded in propagating a systematic review and false narrative of life in the country during the years of Martial Law (1972-1981). Voters between the ages of 18 and 40, who are the most avid users of social networks, have been misled by this false account of a supposed golden age during the dictatorial years of their father,” Rivera notes by email.

Political strategist Alan German agreed in a recent interview on the ANC channel that the Marcos family was “reinventing its own history, its own myths and linking them to a message of a return to a glorious era of prosperity” that he described as a “utopian promise”. .

Ferdinand Imelda Marcos Beatles in Manila
Standing with his family, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. waves to the crowd after his inauguration as President of the Philippines on Dec. 30, 1965. (Bettmann/)

To this factor, Rivera adds the division of the opposition, with four candidates clearly opposed to the tandem that Marcos forms with Sara Duterte, daughter of the current president, and the support of powerful families, such as those of former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada and that of magnate Manny Villar, the richest in the country.


Given the strength of Marcos’ candidacy, the only rival who seems to have any chance is Leni Robredo, who already defeated Marcos at the polls in 2016 in the race for the vice presidency of the country, which she has held ever since.

“It seems that Robredo’s campaign, driven by volunteers, has begun to gain strength, but the big question is whether there is time left to campaign,” says Rivera, who considers Marcos’ advantage “considerable, but not insurmountable” here. to May 9.

  REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco/File Photo
REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco/File Photo (Romeo Ranoco/)

Although the current numbers make Marcos the almost certain winner, the background of the last decade invites caution, since neither in 2010 nor in 2016 did the candidate who started the campaign win.

For Rivera, a factor that could cause a turnaround is the position of the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has not opted for any candidate despite the fact that his own daughter is running for vice president hand in hand with Marcos.

Although Duterte has publicly denigrated Marcos, accusing him of being a weak candidate and insinuating his addiction to cocaine, both attract a very similar type of voter who is convinced by the image of the tough and decisive man.

“If Duterte were to support other candidates, he would divide his voter base, which has so far largely favored Marcos,” the academic concludes.

(with information from EFE)


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