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Marcos Jr wins Philippine presidency

MANILA (AFP) – The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos cemented a landslide presidential election victory yesterday, after Filipinos bet a familiar but tainted dynasty could ease rampant poverty – while dismissing warnings the clan’s return will deepen corruption and weaken democracy.

With an initial count almost complete, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr had secured over 56 per cent of the vote and more than double the tally of his nearest rival, liberal Leni Robredo.

His now unassailable lead of 16-million-plus votes spells another astonishing reversal in the fortunes of the Marcos family, who have gone from the presidential palace to pariahs and back again in the space of a few decades.

The Marcos victory is a hammer blow to millions of Filipinos who hoped to reverse course after six years of increasingly authoritarian rule by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Far from repudiating Duterte’s excesses, voters elected his daughter Sara as vice president by a landslide in a parallel vote.

In 1986, Marcos Sr and First Lady Imelda Marcos were chased into exile by the “People Power” revolution.

Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr celebrate after his landslide presidential election victory in Mandaluyong City. PHOTO: AFP
Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr speaks to the media, at his party headquarters in Manila. PHOTO: AP

Marcos Jr steadfastly refused to denounce his family’s brutal and corrupt excesses in a campaign marked by a systemic whitewashing of history. With memories of the regime fading with time and muddied by countless misleading Facebook posts, voters turned to Marcos to rekindle past glories.

“He will lift our country from the poverty we’re experiencing now,” said supporter and retired police officer Anthony Sola, who described himself as elated with the result.

The 50-year-old dismissed allegations that the Marcoses’ stole as much as USD10 billion during their last period in power: “I don’t believe they stole money, because if they did, they should have been imprisoned already.”

Despite an Oxford education and jet-set lifestyle, Marcos was able to tap into both anti-elite anger and economic malaise.

Some 43 per cent of Filipinos consider themselves poor, and 39 per cent more feel they are on the borderline, according to a March poll by the Social Weather Survey.

Delivering a late-night address from his campaign headquarters in Manila on Monday, a beaming Marcos thanked volunteers for months of “sacrifices and work” but stopped short of claiming victory.

A fully certified tally is not expected before May 28.

On the streets, hundreds of ecstatic supporters set off fireworks late into the night, waved the national flag and clambered onto parked cars to chant in victory.

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