Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is officially inaugurated as the Philippine leader

Camille Elemia, Jojo Riñoza, and Luis Liwanag, Manila
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is officially inaugurated as the Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr., joined by his wife, Maria Louise, takes the oath of office during the presidential inauguration in Manila, June 30, 2022. [Aaron Favila/AP]
Aaron Favila/AP

Updated at 1:59 p.m. ET on 2022-06-30

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. praised his dictator father as he was inaugurated Thursday as the 17th president of the Philippines, in a remarkable political comeback that has largely rehabilitated one of Asia’s most notorious political dynasties.

Wearing traditional Filipino garb and surrounded by his family, the son and namesake of the late Filipino dictator took his oath before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo in a ceremony held at Manila’s National Museum amid a highly charged atmosphere between his supporters and critics.

Marcos Jr., known among supporters as “Bongbong,” also extended the olive branch to his political foes during his speech at the event, witnessed by three former Filipino presidents and foreign dignitaries including Douglas Emhoff, the second gentleman of the United States. 

“This is a historic moment for us all. I feel it deep within me. You, the people, have spoken, and it is resounding,” Marcos Jr. said during a 30-minute speech.

“When my call for unity started to resonate with you, it did so because it echoed your yearning, mirrored your sentiments, and expressed your hopes for your family, the country, and a better future,” he said. “That is why it reverberated and amplified as it did to deliver the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”

Marcos Jr., 64, won last month’s elections by a landslide, an outcome many viewed as incredible since his dictator father was ousted by a “people power” revolt in 1986.

During his time in power (1965-86), the elder Marcos ruled mostly with an iron fist, presiding over a regime blamed for the reported killings of thousands of political prisoners and others. Authorities believe Marcos and his wife plundered as much as U.S. $10 billion from the nation’s coffers.

The family was exiled to Hawaii, where the father died three years later. Still, a few years later, Imelda and the Marcos children were allowed to return home, where they eventually recovered all lost political power.

Imee Marcos, one of Marcos Jr.’s two sisters, is a senator, while another sister is married to one of the wealthiest families in the country. Marcos Jr.’s son, Sandro, was elected to congress in last month’s election, the same time his father won the presidency. 

“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence in a land filled with people with the greatest potential for achievement, and yet they were poor,” Marcos Jr. said of his father during the inauguration.

“But he got it done. Sometimes, with the needed support. Sometimes, without. So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me,” Marcos Jr. said.

Filipinos had picked him “to be your servant to enable changes to benefit all,” he said. “I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility that you’ve put on my shoulders. I do not take it lightly, but I’m ready for the task.”

More than 15,000 security personnel were deployed across the capital, while a brief military parade was organized before the swearing-in. Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte met with Marcos Jr. at the Malacañang Palace, where the latter had spent most of his childhood.

Marcos supporters, wearing the family’s political color of red and flashing the victory sign, were bused onto a golf course fronting the National Museum, the building that once housed the Senate when his late father led the legislative body in the 1960s before ruling the country as a brutal dictator.

Ernesto Lomuntad, donning a red t-shirt emblazoned with BBM (Bongbong Marcos), said that Marcos’ rivals would soon reconcile with him.

“I think it’s divinely orchestrated. God has a plan for this,” the 58-year-old retired government employee told BenarNews. “I hope forgiveness among political rivals will come soon for the country’s benefit.”

Mhysan Anacta, 44, whose group of pro-Marcos volunteers arrived early, said she was elated “because our hard work and help as volunteers paid off.” She added: “Let us give him a chance.”

Angry protest against the new president

Just a kilometer away from the ceremony venue, about 2,000 people protested Marcos as the new president. They were restricted to a small area in front of a Catholic church, where demonstrators held a program under the watchful eyes of riot police.

Bonnie Ilagan, a survivor of Marcos Sr.’s martial law, whose activist sister Rizalina disappeared in 1977 after being abducted by government forces, said the son’s inauguration is a “sad day” for the country.

 “We are dismayed, bitter, but not quite surprised,” he told BenarNews.

He said that by throwing away petitions questioning Marcos Jr.’s eligibility to serve as president, the Supreme Court had “legally put the stamp on the Marcosian plot to rewrite history according to their false narratives.”

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court in Manila ruled that convictions for tax evasion did not disqualify the new president from taking office.

However, Ilagan stressed that he and others would continue to fight the Marcos family’s restoration story. “We are sure about pursuing our cause in the protest arena as provided for by the constitution unless Marcos orders his military to persecute us as terrorists,” he said.

Anti-Marcos activists hold a protest rally about a kilometer from where he was being inaugurated in Manila, June 30, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

A focus on the future

On Thursday, President Marcos said he did not want to talk about the past but rather the future, his next six years in the country’s driver’s seat. He came short of criticizing his predecessor’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said there were shortcomings he would fix, without elaborating.

He also said the country needed to come up with a long-term recovery plan that was practical and doable, while promising to spell out his policy in July during his first address to a joint session of Congress.

He said he had already searched for "promising” approaches to solve current problems, including the oil crisis triggered by the Russia invasion of Ukraine, and to improve the agriculture sector.

To his critics, Marcos said he extended his hand, and vowed to salve the wounds of political divisions.

“We are here to repair a house divided, to make it whole and to stand strong again in a bayanihan way, expressive of our nature as Filipinos,” he said, referring to the Filipino practice of solving challenges together.

“We shall seek, not scorn dialogue, listen respectfully to contrary views, be open to suggestions coming from hard thinking and unsparing judgment but always from us, Filipinos,” he said.


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