The son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was sworn in as president of the Philippines on Thursday, marking a stunning comeback for one of Asia’s most famous political dynasties, 36 years after it was ousted in a popular uprising.
Marcos Jr scored a rare landslide victory in last month’s election, aided by what his critics see as a decades-long effort to change public perception of a family richly at the helm of one of the world’s most notorious kleptocracies.
In a speech that echoed his campaign slogans of unity, Marcos Jr, better known as “Bongbong,” vowed that he would take the country far on his watch with policies that would benefit all, thanking the public for delivering what he did. called “the largest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”
“You won’t be disappointed, so don’t worry,” he said at his inauguration ceremony, surrounded by his immediate family and with his sister Imee, a state senator, and 92-year-old mother Imelda, a former four-time congressman. , sitting close by.
Marcos Jr, 64, also praised his late father’s rule, but said his presidency was not about the past, but about a brighter future.
“I once knew a man who saw what little had been accomplished since independence…but he sometimes got it done with the necessary support, sometimes without,” he said.
“So it will be with his son. You won’t get any apologies from me.’ He added: “Don’t look back in anger or nostalgia.”
The elder Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines for two decades from 1965, nearly half of which was under martial law, helping him extend his grip on power until his overthrow and withdrawal of his family into exile during a revolution of 1986 ‘people’s power’.
Family denies allegations that it stole from the state
Thousands of Marcos opponents were imprisoned, killed or disappeared during his reign, and the family name became synonymous with favoritism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from the state coffers. The Marcos family has dismissed allegations of embezzlement.
Hundreds of activists were expected to protest Marcos Jr’s inauguration, enraged by a campaign backed by a powerful network of supporters and social media influencers determined to debunk historical narratives of the Marcos era.
The former senator and congressman campaigned with the slogan “together we will rise again,” pining nostalgia for his father’s rule, which his family and supporters have portrayed as a golden age for the Philippines, a former American colony.
Voters are counting on him to deliver on his promises to create jobs and lower consumer prices in a country of 110 million people, nearly a quarter of whom live on less than $2 a day.
In a rousing 30-minute speech, Marcos Jr. pledged educational reforms to improve food, infrastructure, waste management and energy supplies and provide full support to millions of Filipino workers abroad.
“I fully understand the seriousness of the responsibility you place on my shoulders. I don’t take it lightly, but I am ready for the task,” he said.
“I’ll get it done.”