Sara Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could join forces in the Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. , the son of the former dictator of the Philippines, on Saturday claimed a major boost in his efforts to become the...


Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the former dictator of the Philippines, on Saturday claimed a major boost in his efforts to become the country’s next president, saying the daughter of its current leader, Rodrigo Duterte, would indeed be his running mate.

Sara Duterte, Mr Duterte’s daughter, had yet to confirm that she supported Mr Marcos in the May election. But she declared her run for vice-president on Saturday, after much speculation she would run for president herself.

A union of Mr. Marcos, whose family draws strength from the north, and Ms. Duterte, whose base is in the south, would combine the power of two major political dynasties in the Philippines, posing a daunting challenge to other candidates in a race crowded. Presidents and vice-presidents are elected separately in the Philippines, but it is common for candidates to join forces as de facto running mates.

“The real tectonic shift in Philippine politics is essentially a look back to the future – the systematic and successful recapture of power by the Marcos,” said Richard Heydarian, a political scientist at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, who wrote an book about M. Duterte.

“This is how relevant the latest development is,” he said. “The Dutertes may have only been the curtain raiser for the Marcos. And my God, that says a lot about Philippine democracy and how troubled it has been in recent years. “

The election comes at a crucial time as the country faces significant foreign and domestic policy challenges. The Philippines is the United States’ oldest ally in Asia and an anchor of the American presence in the region, where Washington is trying to challenge China’s growing influence. At home, the country of around 110 million people faces high unemployment due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

As Vice President, Ms Duterte would be well placed to defend her father from the potential consequences of his bloody and heavily criticized war on drugs, which is under investigation by the International Criminal Court. The court said Mr Duterte’s government appeared to have started “a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population»And that the murders may have been crimes against humanity.

National police say its officers have killed at least 8,000 people accused of drug crimes, but rights groups say the actual number is much higher and many of those killed were innocent.

Ms Duterte, 43, was the favorite for the May presidential election in a field of 97 candidates, including Mr Marcos, the former boxing star Manny Pacquiao and vice president of the country. But several political experts had predicted that Ms Duterte would not run against Mr Marcos as they enjoy the support of many of the same voters.

“They will restore the confidence of the people in the government, which was ruined by Imelda,” said Reynaldo Dasig, 57, a parking attendant in the town of Dagupan, referring to Mr Marcos’ mother, Imelda. R. Marcos, who was convicted of corruption in 2018 but escaped prison.

“I think he won’t do Imelda, and if he wins, maybe he will give back to the country what his mother stole,” he said, adding of Mr Marcos and Ms Duterte, “I will vote for both of them, regardless of the president or vice-president.

Rights activists have described the election as an existential moment for the country’s democracy, which they say has receded under Mr. Duterte. His administration jailed opponents and tried to intimidate journalists who criticize him, including Maria Ressa, one of two recipients of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“Human rights are going to become an issue in the countryside in a way we haven’t seen since the Marcos dictatorship,” said Carlos Conde, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch who covers the Philippines. “No matter what the Marcos say – that they’ve become popular and all that – I think the Marcos’ sordid legacy is still a handicap.”

Mr. Marcos’ father, Ferdinand E. Marcos, ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for two decades. He was defeated by a popular uprising in 1986 and went into exile in Hawaii, where he died three years later. He has been accused of stealing up to $ 10 billion from state coffers and killing or missing thousands.

His widow, Imelda Marcos, now 92, and his children were later allowed to return to the Philippines, where they worked to rehabilitate the surname. Their only son, 64-year-old Mr. Marcos, widely known in the Philippines as “Bongbong”, served as governor and senator. His sister Imee is a senator.

Mr. Duterte teamed up with the Marcos family very early on, publicly thanking them for funding his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election. Just months after taking office, he allowed the the remains of the dictator must be transferred at the Filipino equivalent of Arlington National Cemetery in Manila.

The Marcos have also been able to capitalize on other factors. Young Filipinos are largely unaware of the abuses of the Marcos era, which are overlooked in the country’s textbooks. And subsequent administrations are widely regarded as having done little to improve the lives of ordinary people.

Supporters of the Marcos family often trumpet the time of the ruling dictator as a golden age of politics, or say that children should not put up with the sins of the father.

“I’m not going to blame them for what happened during those years, they weren’t part of their father’s politics,” Herman Joseph Kraft said, the Chairman of the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines. “However, I can fault them for actually trying to revise the story, change the narrative of that time, and try to promote the idea that their father was a hero.”

Mr Marcos has repeatedly said he will not apologize for what his father has done. In 2016, when Mr Duterte authorized the burial of his father’s remains in the National Heroes’ Cemetery, he told reporters he could “only apologize for myself”.

In another interview with local media that year, Mr Marcos said: “No matter what apology you make, it won’t be enough.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Sara Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could join forces in the Philippines
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