Marcos family returns to power as Ferdinand Jnr wins Philippine presidential election


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Ferdinand Marcos Jr has clinched a stunning runaway victory in the Philippines’ presidential election in the first win by a majority since a 1986 revolution that toppled his late father’s two-decade dictatorship.

An unofficial tally on Monday showed Marcos, popularly known as “Bongbong”, had surpassed the 27.5 million votes needed for a majority, setting the stage for a once unthinkable return to rule of the Marcos family, 36 years after its humiliating retreat into exile during a “people power” uprising.

“I hope you won’t get tired of trusting us,” Mr Marcos told supporters in remarks streamed on Facebook.

“We have plenty of things to do,” he said, adding “an endeavour as large as this does not involve one person”.

Marcos Jr had 29.9 million votes, double that of Leni Robredo, the vice-president, with 93.8 per cent of the eligible ballots counted, according to the unofficial Commission on Elections tally. Turnout was about 80 per cent.

An official result is expected about the end of the month.

Despite its fall from grace, the Marcos family returned from exile in the 1990s and has remained a powerful force in Philippine politics, retaining its influence with vast wealth and far-reaching connections.

Marcos Jr has served as a governor, congressman and senator, his sister, Imee, is a senator and mother Imelda, the widow of the late dictator, served four terms in congress. Marcos Jr’s son Ferdinand Alexander was poised to win a seat in congress on Monday.

Mr Marcos, 64, has presented no real policy platform, campaigning on a simple but ambiguous message of unity.

His six-year presidency is expected to provide continuity from outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose strongman approach proved popular.

Analysts expect Mr Marcos to focus on completing Mr Duterte’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure upgrade and to seek close ties with China. But some say existing problems of corruption and nepotism in the Philippines could worsen.

A major boon for Mr Marcos was him securing the president’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, as his running mate, tapping her father’s vast support.

Monday’s outcome demonstrated the huge impact of a sophisticated social media operation aimed at younger Filipinos born after the revolution, and a proliferation of misinformation challenging historical accounts of the Marcos martial law era.

The Marcos family lived famously opulent lifestyles, but deny siphoning off billions of dollars of state wealth while at the helm of what historians consider one of Asia’s most notorious kleptocracies.

Many of Mr Marcos Jr’s supporters are convinced those past narratives of the former first family were lies peddled by his opponents.

The win avenges Mr Marcos Jr’s loss to Ms Robredo in the 2016 vice-presidential election, a narrow defeat by just 200,000 votes that Mr Marcos fought unsuccessfully to overturn.

In a clear swipe at Mr Marcos, Ms Robredo urged supporters: “Do not let go.”

“Keep standing. Insist on the truth. It took time to build the structures of lies. We have time and opportunity to fight and dismantle these,” she told a news conference.

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