It was a memorable day in the Philippines as a new president was sworn in on Thursday. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son, and namesake of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was elected the 17th President of the Philippines after a landslide victory in the country’s general election held earlier this year.
Marcos won the election with 31.6 million (58,77%) votes. The country has never witnessed such a victory in over two decades.
In a ceremony at the National Museum in Manila, the new president thanked the people for what he called “the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”
Marcos promised to unite the already divided country and tackle the economic challenges facing the country.
“This is a historic moment for us all. You picked me to be your servant to enable changes to benefit all. I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility you put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly, but I am ready for the task,” he said.
Marcos also paid tribute to his later father, saying he would get the job done as his dictator father did.
“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence. In a land of people with the greatest potential for achievement and yet they were poor. But he got it done. Sometimes with needed support, sometimes without. So will it be with his son,” he told the crowd.
The 64-year-old assured Filipinos that there is no excuse not to get the job done. “you will get no excuses from me,” he said.
The president also assured the crowd that he would ensure that the divided country gets unity and that he would focus on the future and not the past.
“I am here not to talk about the past. I am here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even plenty, of readily available ways and means to get done what needs doing,” Marcos said. “I will get it done.”
THE MARTIAL RULE OF HIS FATHER AND EXILE
The Father of the new President, Ferdinand Marcos Snr., was the leader of the Philippines for 21 years before he was chased out of power in 1986 during the People Power Revolution. During his reign, corruption was the order of the day. Thousands of his opponents were either jailed or killed. The family was also accused of stealing billions of dollars of the country’s money. The family has denied all the allegations.
After leaving office in 1986, the family fled to Hawaii and was not allowed to come back until 1991. The dictator died in 1989 while he was still in exile. Soon after the family returned from Hawaii, the former first lady and mother of the new President reentered politics alongside other family members. Critics are worried that the son would not be any different from the father.
ATTEMPT TO OVERTURN THE ELECTIONS
On Tuesday, Bongbong (nickname) survived a last-minute attempt to overturn his election on the ground of tax violations. Activists filed a suit before the Supreme Court of the Philippines, asking the court to pronounce Bongbong unqualified to contest the elections. The prosecutors argued that Marcos had violated tax laws in the past and was not qualified to run for President.
In a unanimous decision by 13 Justices, the court dismissed the case and declared the Bongbong eligible to contest.
“The Court held that in the exercise of its power to decide the present controversy led them to no other conclusion, but that respondent Marcos Jr. is qualified to run for and be elected to public office,” the Court said in its judgment.
If the case had gone the other way, Marcos would have faced disqualification, making second place Leni Robredo, who scored 27% of the votes, the automatic winner of the election.
DAUGHTER OF OUTGOING PRESIDENT BECOMES VICE PRESIDENT
Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, was also sworn in on May 19th as the 15th Vice President of the Philipines. She was the running mate to Marcos in the elections.
The Philipines operate an electoral system that holds different elections for President and Vice President. That means the President and the Vice President could be members of two different political parties. The President and the Vice President also do not take their oaths in the same ceremony.
After the 44-year-old took her oath of office, she called for unity after a divisive campaign.
“The days ahead may be full of challenges that call for us to be more united as a nation,” she said.
The son of the former dictator and daughter of the outgoing President, now have the responsibility to solve the country’s challenges in the next six years as President and Vice President. Many have raised concerns that Bongbong’s rule would be the same as that of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who clamped down on the media during his 6-year tenure. The results will be out in six years.