Ferdinand Marcos Jr sworn in as Philippines president

Inauguration of man known as Bongbong comes 36 years after army-backed revolt removed his namesake father from power

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr was sworn in as president of the Philippines on Thursday amid protests over his namesake father's rule.

The inauguration of Mr Marcos Jr was held at the steps of the National Museum in Manila on Thursday.

The Philippine Congress last month proclaimed his landslide victory, as well as that of his running mate Sara Duterte, daughter of departing president Rodrigo Duterte, in the vice-presidential race.

“I ask you all pray for me, wish me well. I want to do well because when the president does well, the country does well,” Mr Marcos Jr said after his congressional proclamation, without taking any questions.

He received more than 31 million votes and Ms Duterte had more than 32 million of the more than 55 million votes cast in the May 9 election — emphatic victories that will provide them robust political capital as they face tremendous challenges as well as doubts arising from their fathers’ reputations.

It was the first majority presidential victory in the Philippines in decades.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and Doug Emhoff, US Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, were among foreign dignitaries at the swearing-in ceremony.

The inauguration comes 36 years after an army-backed revolt removed his father Ferdinand Marcos Sr from power.

Activists and survivors of the martial law-era under his father staged protests on the sidelines of the inauguration. Thousands of police officers, including anti-riot contingents, Swat commandos and snipers, were deployed in the bayside tourist district for security.

A public holiday, monuments and the Philippine constitution stand as reminders of his father’s tyrannical rule.

“Wow is this really happening?” Bonifacio Ilagan, 70, an activist who was detained and severely tortured by counterinsurgency forces during the elder Marcos’s rule, told AP.

“For victims of martial law like me, this is a nightmare.”

Such historical baggage and antagonism stand to hound Marcos Jr during a six-year presidency beginning at a time of intense crises.

The Philippines has been among the countries in Asia worst-hit by the two-year coronavirus pandemic, after more than 60,000 deaths and extended lockdowns sent the economy to its worst recession since the Second World War and worsened poverty, unemployment and hunger.

As the pandemic was easing early this year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent global inflation soaring and sparked fears of food shortages.

Last week, Mr Marcos Jr announced he would serve as secretary of agriculture temporarily after he takes office to prepare for possible food supply emergencies. “I think the problem is severe enough,” he said and added he has asked his key advisers to brace for “emergency situations, especially when it comes to food supply.”

He also inherits decades-old Islamist and communist insurgencies, crime, gaping inequality and political divisions inflamed by his election.

Mr Duterte presided over a brutal anti-drugs campaign that left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead in an unprecedented scale of killings the International Criminal Court was investigating as a possible crime against humanity.

The probe was suspended in November, but the ICC chief prosecutor has asked that it be resumed immediately.

Mr Marcos Jr and Ms Duterte have faced calls to help prosecute her father and co-operate with the international court when they office, a looming political dilemma.

A former governor, congressman and senator, Mr Marcos Jr has refused to acknowledge or apologise for massive human rights breaches and plunder under his father’s rule and has defended his legacy.

He has appealed to be judged “not by my ancestors, but by my actions”.

Updated: June 30, 2022, 6:21 AM
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