MANILA – Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is poised to turn into the subsequent president of the Philippines, marking the democratic vindication of a political clan that was unceremoniously toppled in a historic “People’s Power” revolt in 1986.
With greater than 95% of the ballots tallied, Marcos Jr had obtained about 30 million votes, greater than double the 14 million obtained by outgoing Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, in line with a partial and unofficial tally compiled by the Commission on Elections.
While a Marcos win was broadly predicted, how the veteran politician will govern is a wildcard. The son of a former dictator skipped presidential debates, eschewed media interviews and infrequently spoke in coverage phrases whereas on the marketing campaign path.
Asia Times’ correspondent Richard Javad Heydarian, who has supplied professional commentary on the election to a number of worldwide and native media retailers, has carefully tracked Marcos’ actions and rise and sees sure indicators of how he could lead. He supplied this Q&A to Asia Times’ Southeast Asia editor Shawn W. Crispin.
Asia Times: Why in your estimation did Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr win in such a large landslide? Why did Filipinos look previous the assorted ills and abuses of his deceased father’s rule to catapult his son to energy?
Heydarian: The single largest issue that explains Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’s victory has a reputation: Sara Duterte, the previous Davao City Mayor who can also be set to turn into the subsequent vice-president with an much more commanding lead within the race for the second-highest workplace of the land.
Had the presidential daughter, who was main in all pre-election surveys by comfy margins, determined to stay to her authentic plan, I consider Marcos Jr would have opted out of the race altogether, if not sunk into political retirement.
Easily 60% of Marcos Jr’s help base, largely from the Visayas-speaking communities throughout the nation in addition to the southern island of Mindanao, is anchored in his very important strategic alliance with Duterte.
In retrospect, Sara Duterte was a shoo-in for the presidency, which is exactly why the outgoing president, Rodrigo Duterte, was initially incensed with Marcos Jr, who he publicly lambasted as a “weak leader” and a “spoiled brat.” In brief, the Dutertes have served because the curtain raisers for the return of the infamous political dynasty to the Malacañang presidential palace.
Asia Times: How do you count on Marcos to reflect and the way will he differentiate from Duterte’s strongman rule? What insurance policies or areas do you count on him to emphasise within the early phases of his presidency?
Heydarian: Marcos Jr technically ran because the administration wager, making him the primary pro-incumbent candidate to win a presidential election in many years. The final time this occurred was in 1992, when president Corazon Aquino’s protection secretary, Fidel Ramos, managed to eke out a slim victory in a good race, which featured a minimum of former First Lady Imelda Marcos and former Marcos crony Danding Cojuangco.
Since the ex-dictator’s son owes a lot of his presidency – and, frankly, profession reboot following his devastating defeat on the vice-presidential race in 2016 – to the Dutertes, he should pay his dues and toe the road on quite a lot of points.
On paper, Marcos Jr is predicted to proceed his predecessors’ drug struggle, “Build, Build, Build,” infrastructure growth program and China-friendly overseas coverage. He’s additionally anticipated to strengthen Duterte-style patronage politics, defang anti-corruption and human rights our bodies – together with these concentrating on his family – and protect the outgoing president from worldwide investigations on human rights points, particularly the widespread extrajudicial killings beneath his violent drug struggle.
In observe, nevertheless, I count on Marcos Jr to tweak key insurance policies of his predecessor by, inter alia, introducing a extra surgical and rehabilitation-driven drug struggle, a extra fiscally sustainable infrastructure program in gentle of the Covid-19 pandemic crunch and even pursue extra balanced relations with rival superpowers relatively than brazenly flirting with China and Russia.
His first order of enterprise, nevertheless, is to facilitate financial restoration within the nation whereas ensuring he doesn’t set off mass revolt by the disenchanted supporters of opposition chief Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who garnered near 14 million votes within the presidential race.
Asia Times: How do you anticipate Marcos will place the Philippines between the US and China? Do you assume he’ll considerably recalibrate Duterte’s China-friendly insurance policies?
Heydarian: Unlike Duterte, who has had an intimate relationship with China in distinction to his contentious ties with the West all through his many years of energy in conflict-ridden Mindanao, the Marcoses have a deep historical past with the West. Marcos Jr and his son have been educated within the United Kingdom. He is a recognized aficionado of British music and trend.
And whereas he resents a number of ongoing US court docket instances in opposition to his household’s ill-gotten wealth, Marcos Jr would probably welcome direct engagement with the White House in an effort to strengthen his strategic room for maneuver, please the Pentagon-trained Philippine protection institution and appease the largely US-friendly Philippine public.
To be certain, a Marcos administration will pursue a transactionalist and economically fruitful relationship with Beijing. But this might clearly pose some threat to the Philippines’ nationwide safety, particularly if Chinese corporations are cleared to develop funding in vital infrastructure. Nevertheless, we’re more likely to see a recalibration of Duterte’s laborious pivot in the direction of China in favor of extra balanced and predictable relations with all main powers.
Duterte didn’t even trouble to go to a single Western capital whereas in energy. The status-conscious and affirmation-seeking Marcoses, in distinction, would like to have their second of vindication by being as soon as once more obtained as dignitaries in all main capitals within the West.
By adopting a correct engagement technique, the West can nudge the incoming Philippine administration in the direction of good governance and stop it from totally falling into China’s orbit of affect.
Follow Richard Javad Heydarian on Twitter at @richeydarian