MANILA, Feb 7 (Reuters) – As the favorite in the Philippine presidential race, the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos appears set to complete a remarkable surname change 36 years after an uprising of “power of the people” ended his father’s autocratic rule.
As the official campaign begins on Tuesday, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 64, holds a double-digit lead in the polls, three months before the May 9 election.
His push for the presidency was aided by what political analysts say was a decades-long public relations effort to alter public perceptions of his family and supporters. Critics accuse the Marcos of attempting to rewrite history.
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“What we are witnessing right now is nothing less than a counter-revolution,” said author and political scholar Richard Heydarian.
“The Marcos are here to erase the (people power) revolution of 1986, and to restore the glory and fully rehabilitate the image of the Marcos regime.”
Since the family returned from exile in the 1990s, Marcos served as governor and congressman of the northern province of Ilocos Norte, his father’s bailiwick, before winning a Senate seat in 2010.
Her sister is a senator and former governor and former congresswoman, and her mother, Imelda, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 1992, was elected to Congress for four terms.
The return of a Marcos to Malacanang, the presidential palace, is unthinkable for millions of Filipinos, but more than half of the country’s more than 60 million voters are 40 or younger and have not lived through the regime. Marcos, his oppression and plunder.
Ferdinand Marcos Sr., with Imelda at his side, served as president for nearly two decades, ruling as dictator before being ousted in the 1986 “people power” uprising that became world famous.
Marcos Sr. and Imelda, known for her vast collection of artwork, jewelry and shoes, have been accused of amassing more than $10 billion during her tenure.
During his rule, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured and 3,240 were killed, according to Amnesty International.
More … than 11,100 victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime received compensation using millions of Marcos’ Swiss bank accounts, part of the family’s ill-gotten wealth clawed back by the government.
Among them was Loretta Ann Rosales, a political activist who was tortured and sexually abused under the Marcos regime and is now one of several plaintiffs seeking to exclude Marcos Jr. from the presidential race.
“We thought we got rid of the Marcos,” said Rosales, who is also a former chairman of the human rights commission. “I want him disqualified.”
“LACK OF LEADERSHIP”
Marcos Jr. questioned Amnesty’s data and dismissed long-standing accounts of oppression and government failure during his father’s rule. He and his family have avoided questions about past atrocities and instead touted what their supporters call a “golden age”.
The young Marcos, also known as Bongbong, praised his father, calling him his “idol”, while expressing his admiration for his “work style”, his strong leadership qualities and his ” love for the Filipino people”. , traits he says he inherited.
“He had a very clear understanding of what needed to be done and how to do it, and I think that was his best quality as a leader,” Bongbong Marcos said in a YouTube interview last year. “The problem we have now is that we lack leadership.”
The YouTube interview titled “The Biggest Lesson Bongbong Marcos Learned From His Dad” has been viewed 13 million times since it aired in September.
“He’s doing great because we have this pandemic of disinformation,” said Victor Manhit, an analyst at think tank Stratbase. “He dominated political discourse on social media.”
Fact-checking organization Vera Files said in a December report that Marcos was the “primary beneficiary” disinformation online to embellish his image while discrediting his rivals before the start of the official campaign period.
“Because you’re surrounded on social media by the same account saying the same things about Marcos (Sr.) being a good leader – benevolent, revolutionary, all these stories – even though it seems bananas and not based on facts. facts, you’re more likely to believe it’s true,” said Marie Fatima Gaw, a communication research professor at the University of the Philippines.
Marcos said he was not engaging in negative campaigning.
He lost the 2016 vice presidential race to human rights lawyer Leni Robredo, who is also running for president alongside boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso and Senator Panfilo Lacson, among others.
For Raphie Respicio, 48, a tricycle driver and tour guide in the Marcos family stronghold in Ilocos Norte, no criticism of Marcos will weaken his support for the former senator.
“He’s done a lot here…and he’s helped tricycle riders earn a living through tourism,” Respicio said. “We are 100% for Bongbong.”
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Reporting by Karen Lema; Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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