Marcos proclaims victory in presidential polls

Camille Elemia
Marcos proclaims victory in presidential polls Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. visits the grave of his father, Ferdinand E. Marcos, at the National Heroes Cemetery in Manila, May 10, 2022.
Handout photo/Office of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In his first post-election press conference, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. proclaimed victory Wednesday in the Philippine presidential election and said he was already busy forming his cabinet.

The son and namesake of the late Filipino dictator also announced that he would give running-mate Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the outgoing president, the portfolio of education secretary in the new administration.

“Thirty-one million of our countrymen voted for unity. Thirty-one million of our countrymen have agreed to unify our country,” Marcos, who is popularly known by the nickname “Bongbong,” told reporters, echoing his campaign’s central theme.

With Marcos cruising to victory, rival superpowers the United States and China both congratulated him on Wednesday and expressed readiness to work with the new administration in Manila.

Duterte-Carpio, who currently serves as mayor of Davao City in the country’s south, meanwhile was poised to win the vice-presidential race by a wide margin, according to unofficial counts of votes from Monday’s general election. In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately.

Marcos said he would submit her name as his first nominee to the Commission of Appointments.

“[O]ur incoming vice president has agreed to take the brief of the Department of Education,” Marcos told a small group of Filipino and foreign correspondents in Manila.

“So Inday Sara said she can do it. She is a mother. She wants to make sure that her children are well trained and well educated,” Marcos said. “That’s the best motivation that we can hope for.”

The past three days were busy ones for Marcos, 64, who is on the cusp of becoming the Southeast Asian nation’s 17th president.

Having accumulated more than 31 million votes – double the number for Vice President Leni Robredo, his closest rival in the presidential race, according to unofficial counts – Marcos is on the verge of succeeding Rodrigo Duterte.

His six-year term was marked by massive killings in a counter-narcotics crackdown and the country’s warmer ties with Beijing, despite ongoing tensions over bilateral territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Analysts have said that Marcos and Duterte-Carpio formed a political alliance aimed at shielding the older Duterte from any prosecution after he leaves office in June, amid a request by the International Criminal Court to investigate him over drug-war deaths that police have placed at about 8,000.

That figure is more than the estimated 3,257 activists known to have been killed by government forces during the two-decade rule of Marcos’ father, Ferdinand E. Marcos. Under his brutal martial law (1972-86), thousands of others also were tortured or went missing.

The Marcos family, whose actions in office created bitter divisions among Filipinos that still linger today, is known to have plundered up to U.S. $10 billion from the nation’s coffers before a peaceful “Peoples Power” uprising ousted Marcos Sr. from power in 1986.

On Tuesday, Marcos Jr., the only son of Ferdinand E. Marcos and former first lady Imelda Marcos, visited his father’s tomb at the National Heroes Cemetery in Metro Manila.

The next day, Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez insisted there was no doubt that Bongbong had been elected to follow in his father’s footsteps as president.

“With 98 percent of the votes counted, and an unassailable lead of over 16 million votes, the Filipino people have spoken decisively,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. will be the 17th President of the Philippines. In historic numbers, the people have used their democratic vote to unite our nation.”

He also described it as “a victory for all Filipinos, and for democracy.”

“To those who voted for Bongbong, and those who did not, it is his promise to be a President for all Filipinos. To seek common ground across political divides, and to work together to unite the nation,” Rodriguez said.

Protesters who are supporters of Philippine presidential candidate Leni Robredo carry placards denouncing her rival, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his vice presidential running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, during a demonstration in Manila, May 10, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

As of Wednesday, other presidential contenders, including world boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and Francisco Domagoso, the popular mayor of Manila mayor, had conceded defeat. But Robredo, the main hope of the opposition, was still holding out, although she urged her supporters to accept the “will of the people.”

Her supporters have accused Marcos Jr. of conniving with elections officials to cheat her out of victory. They alleged that the votes counted so far did not reflect the sheer number of people who had attended massive pro-Robredo rallies in the run-up to the vote.

“Be assured of your contributions. We have started something this country has never seen before. A campaign led by the people. A movement that not only sought to dismantle the old and rotten system, but to forge real and positive change,” Robredo said Tuesday in a broadcast via Facebook Live.

“The voice of the people is becoming clearer and clear. In the name of the Philippines that I know you also love, we need to listen to this voice because in the end we only share one country,” she said.

US and China on Marcos victory

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Marcos Jr. “on his election as the Philippines’ next president,” saying that the United States looked forward to working with the president-elect “to strengthen the enduring alliance between the United States and the Philippines.”

“Our special partnership is rooted in a long and deeply interwoven history, shared values and interests, and strong people-to-people ties,” said the top diplomat from the Western country that had colonized the Philippines in the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century.

“As friends, partners, and allies, we will continue to collaborate closely with the Philippines to promote respect for human rights and to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.” 

Meanwhile, Kurt Campbell, the White House’s top official in charge of U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific, indicated that the Biden administration was keen to have a good relationship with the new Marcos administration.

“Our desire will be to get off to a good start,” Campbell said during a webinar in Washington on Wednesday, adding that “we are seeking early engagement.”

“[O]bviously, the Philippines plays such a critical important role and we will seek to continue close partnership in the security realm and increasing trade and economic ties,” he added.

In Beijing, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry also congratulated Marcos and Duterte-Carpio.

“We hope and believe that various political forces in the Philippines will continue to work in solidarity for national renewal and development,” said spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao emphasized a “mutually-beneficial cooperation” between the two nations.

“Under the strategic guidance of our heads of state, bilateral relations have been steadily upgraded. The flourishing relationship has delivered benefits to both peoples and contributed to regional peace and stability,” he added.

The Philippines is at the center of a geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China.

Manila claims parts of the South China Sea, a strategic maritime area that Beijing claims almost in its entirety, while the U.S. Navy regulates patrols the contested waterway.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Manila, Jojo Riñoza in Dagupan City, Froilan Gallardo and Richel V. Umel in Cagayan de Oro, and Dennis Jay Santos in Davao City, and Shailaja Neelakantan in Washington contributed to this report.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.