Dictator’s Son Leads the Nation Plundered by His Family


As soon as the Supreme Court Justice will swear in the new president of the republic, the Duterte regime will finally come to an end. After six years of bloody “war against drugs”, two years of inefficient COVID-19 response resulting in economic meltdown, and P12.68 trillion debt by the end of March, whoever becomes the president would shoulder enormous responsibility. In addition to that, the debt-ridden country is still paying for more than $25 billion in foreign debt during the Marcos regime (1966-1985) until 2025.

Teaser Image Caption
"Do you get déjà vu when he's with you?" Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., unofficial counts place him as the President-elect of the Philippines.

Since 2016, the country riddled with corruption, scandals, misappropriation of funds, red-baiting and killings that might be halted if the people would decide to turn the tide against the powerful political families – Marcos, Duterte, Arroyo, and their ilks,

Incumbent vice-president Leonor “Leni” Robredo filed for candidacy on 7 October 2021. She wore pink that symbolizes emerging global protests and activism, and explicitly expressing her independence from her party - Liberal Party. Robredo is a lawyer, economist and a House Representative of Camarines Sur 3rd District before serving as a vice president. Her rival, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is a former senator who fakes an Oxford degree.

Henceforth, pink symbolizes “Rosas na bukas”, the beginning of a new day; the colour of the future.

Robredo Pink Rally
Presidential candidate Leni Robredo speaks at her "Pink Sunday" campaign rally, along with Senator Francis Pangilinan.

Before the election, pro-Marcos groups and supporters are already present on social media like YouTube, Tiktok and Facebook. Misinformation/Disinformation campaigns flood social media. These range from twisting historical facts and myths such as the Tallano gold, Marcos as a World War 2 hero and a brilliant lawyer for the royal family, all aiming to deodorize the image of the Marcos family and Martial Law years as the golden years of the Philippines.

The people have chosen a thief rather than a principled leader who would deliver us good governance.

As the election drew nearer, massive vote-buying, “hakot-crowd” (crowds being ferried to join political rallies) in busloads, and intimidation of volunteers all pointed to dirty tactics of Marcos. On the other hand, millions of people wearing pink flooded the venues of Robredo’s political rallies.

But the pink tide did not bring Robredo to Malacañang Palace. The people have chosen a thief rather than a principled leader who would deliver us good governance.

Father and Son
"'Cause I'd love to dance with my father again": Marcos Sr. and Marcos Jr. in undated photo at Malacañang Palace.

The deciding factor

“On the basis of the large mass rallies that have supported her, Robredo was certain to win the presidential elections because she is the credible opposition leader,” Professor Jose Maria Sison, the chief consultant of National Democratic Front (NDF) based in the Netherlands claimed.

There are 67.5 million Filipino voters including 1.69 million overseas voters. In 2016, Robredo narrowly won against Marcos for vice-presidential race. The voters’ turnout then was not impressive. The 2022 election is different.

As soon as Robredo declared her candidacy, millions of volunteers in the country and abroad mobilized to support her. Although it was the most divisive election, the spirit of volunteerism, the support she gets from people from all walks of life is unprecedented in the history of the Philippine politics.

Notably, the impact of her works during the COVID-19 lockdown made a difference, as well as during disasters. Despite the limited budget of the Office of the Vice President, Robredo was able to assist frontliners during the lockdown such as free-shuttles to work, online medical consultations, vaccine express projects, and P45.86 million funding for COVID-19 detection kits.

Rodrigo Duterte’s influence in the national election cannot be discounted.

However, Rodrigo Duterte’s influence in the national election cannot be discounted. He appointed seven commissioners to the Commission on Election (COMELEC) en banc. Aside from the multi-national owned company, SMARTMATIC, COMELEC also signed a contract with F2 Logistics, a company linked to Davao businessperson Dennis Uy, a known Duterte crony. The contract with F2 Logistics is in charge of the equipment to be used in the automated election system including vote-counting machines, and transmission equipment. It also delivered the official ballots, ballot boxes, voters’ lists and related supplies.

The Dutertes
The Duterte Dynasty: Sara Duterte is likely the Vice President-elect of the Philippines.

Electoral Fraud is not new

On 9 May 2022 elections, reports about defective vote-count machines (VCM) from defective memory cards, not reading ballots or not printing confirmation receipt. Many came as early as 5:00 a.m only to be told that the VCM were not working and they have to wait until these were fixed as late as 7 pm. The Commission on Election (COMELEC) claimed that the defective VCM were isolated cases and “won’t affect the poll’s integrity.” There are reported 1,800 malfunctioned VCMs around the country out of 106,017. This affected over 1 million voters. Kontra Daya, an election watchdog, noted that malfunctioned VCMs has doubled compared to 2016 and 2019 based on COMELEC data.

Such scenario is not new in the Philippines particularly when canvassing votes were done manually.

The 1986 snap elections saw a massive electoral fraud. However, it led to the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos, the namesake of Marcos, Jr., during the People Power Revolution (EDSA Revolution) on 25 February 1986 led by Corazon Aquino, widow of Marcos’ arch enemy, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. However, this wouldn’t be possible if the vote tabulators hired by COMELEC did not walkout when they noticed that their superiors were manipulating the results.

The term dagdag-bawas (add-subtract) became a norm and added to the Philippine “electoral vocabulary”. “Dead voters” (dead persons who are still active in voters’ list) also surfaced during the election time to vote for their candidates.  It was also common to declare failure of elections in some areas in Mindanao due to election related violence.

The Election Modernization Act of 1997 authorizes the COMELEC to use an automated election system in May 11, 1998 and “the subsequent national and local electoral practices” but it was only in the 2010 Philippine general election that the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) was introduced. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino became the president in that election.

In 2016 election, Marcos Jr. accused Robredo

of cheating him for the vice-presidential race

Voter PH
A teenage voter feeds his ballot into the vote counting machine with assistance of a school employee at precinct no. 299 at the Bagong Nayon 1 Elementary School, Cogeo, Antipolo City on Monday (May 9, 2022).

In 2016 election, Marcos Jr. accused Robredo of cheating him for the vice-presidential race. He spent six years protesting at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. In July 2021, the Supreme Court junked Marcos Jr.’s protest. In 2016, 801 VCMs malfunctioned.

The mid-term election in 2019 catapulted Duterte’s allies in the Senate. On election day, various incidents that could be related to electoral fraud and unlawful electioneering were reported. Non-functioning voting machines were reported across the country. COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez admitted that 400 to 600 of the 85,000 vote-counting machines encountered glitches.

A President who can never set foot in the US

Despite the abuses and plunder committed by his family against the Filipino people, a landslide vote brought a Marcos back into power.


Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and his mother, Imelda as executors of the estate of ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos is the first president that has a case in the US and will face arrest for court contempt in 1995 by not paying $353 million to human-rights victims. The US Court of Appeals 9th Circuit affirmed the conviction in 2012. The judgement of contempt was extended by Judge Derrick Watson in August 2019 until January 25, 2013. The Swiss government froze the family’s Swiss accounts because the Philippines was able to establish that these were ill-gotten. Thirty-six years since the Marcoses were ousted, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) is still trying to recover P125.9 billion more of illicit wealth.

Despite the abuses and plunder committed by his family against the Filipino people, a landslide vote brought a Marcos back into power.

Marcos protest
Street protest in front of the Supreme Court of the Philippines regarding of Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. Burial Cases judgement on 8 November 2016.

A Marcos Presidency

Marcos’ s vague platform focusing on “unity” and the belief of his followers that he will continue the “legacy” of his father are baffling. He has no concrete plans on the economic recovery, as well as social services. But his supporters claim that he can make the Philippines a haven by reducing the prices of basic commodities such as rice to as low as P20 a kilo from the current P37 and sugar to P10 a kilo from P50. With the current peso dollar rate of P52 to $1.

Professor Sison expects the worst to come from the presidency of Marcos Junior and vice presidency of Sara Duterte. 

“They will continue the brutal and corrupt legacies of their parents.  Marcos Jr. is out to consolidate and expand the bureaucratic loot of his parents and use state power to do so. Sara is out to continue the reign of state terrorism and to prevent the prosecution and trial of her father for crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court and for plunder and mass murder before Philippine courts,” Sison said.

This is also the concern of Nanette Castillo, a 53 year old mother of Aldrin Castillo, a victim of Duterte’s war on drugs. If Robredo had become the president, she expected that Duterte would finally face the ICC. Now, jobless, she hopes that Marcos would seek justice for them. But it is now impossible.

The magnitude of fake news, disinformation, and twisting of historical facts, particularly the atrocities of Martial Law is a challenge to educators.

The Marcoses
The Marcoses at the tomb of the Patriarch.

But will Marcos Jr. remain a president for long?

“The lack of inquisitiveness of Filipino social media users, their inability to recognize disinformation, their tendency to move further away from social cohesion and egalitarian/ fair common purpose, the opportunistic behavior of political elites and political operators, and the failure of the country’s education system to train people on how to be responsible digital citizens,”  Professor Analiza Amurao of Mahidol University in Thailand, said.

But will Marcos Jr. remain a president for long?

According to COMELEC, the decision on the disqualification case against Marcos will be released on May 10.

*Updates*Comelec affirms dismissal of appeals vs. Marcos candidacy - Lade Jean Kabagani |Philippine News Agency
On Tuesday, the Comelec en banc released its ruling that dismissed the motions for reconsideration of petitions seeking to disqualify Marcos candidacy that stemmed from petitioners who wanted Marcos dropped from the elections because of his alleged failure to file an income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 while he was a public official in Ilocos Norte.


Eunice Barbara C. Novio is a journalist, poet, editor, author and lecturer at Vongchavalitkul University, Thailand. She is a member of Editorial Advisory Board for Media Asia (Taylor & Francis) and writes for various media outlets including, Bangkok Post, Asia Times, and a correspondent for Inquirer.net US. She holds Master of Arts in Women and Development from University of the Philippines, Diliman.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Heinrich Böll Stiftung.