Who is new Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr?

Known as 'Bongbong', the son of the country's former dictator secured more than 56 per cent of the vote in May 2022

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr has been sworn in as president of the Philippines after he claimed victory in the Philippines presidential election by a landslide.

The presidency comes more than three decades after his dictator father Ferdinand Marcos was forced to flee the country in an uprising, and his inauguration was marked by protests over his father's 21-year rule.

Mr Marcos Jr held an unassailable lead of more than 16 million votes after 98 per cent were counted following May's election, and overall he received more than 31 million votes.

After his proclamation he said: "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."

But who Ferdinand Marcos Jr he and how did he win the election?

Who is Ferdinand Marcos Jr?

The win by Mr Marcos Jr, 64, nicknamed "Bongbong", is an astonishing reversal of the 1986 “People Power” pro-democracy revolt that removed his father.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr's apparent victory marks an astonishing reversal of the 1986 “People Power” pro-democracy revolt that booted his father into global infamy. AP

His win follows a whitewashing of his family's past.

In the 36 years since the popular uprising pushed the Marcoses into US exile, they have been rebuilding their political fortunes.

Despite his own father's concerns about his "carefree and lazy" nature, Mr Marcos Jr made it to the ultimate post.

After narrowly losing the vice presidential race to Ms Robredo in the 2016 election, he was determined their rematch in the presidential contest would end differently.

Vowing to unify the country, Mr Marcos Jr made sweeping promises on the campaign trail to boost jobs and tackle rising prices in the lower middle-income country.

"Unity is my cause because of my firm belief that unity is the first step towards getting out of this crisis we are now in," Mr Marcos Jr said in February, without explaining further what the slogan meant.

How did Marcos Jr become president?

Growing up in the presidential palace in Manila, Mr Marcos Jr wanted to be an astronaut before he followed in his father's footsteps into politics.

He served as vice governor and twice as governor of the family's northern stronghold of Ilocos Norte province, and also had stints in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

His mother Imelda, 92, said she had dreamt of him becoming the country's leader.

Ferdinand Marcos, with his wife Imelda at his side and Ferdinand Marcos Jr, far right, on the balcony of Malacanang Palace in February 1986 in Manila, soon after taking the oath of office as president of the Philippines. AP

Mr Marcos Jr's links to his father, whose rule was marked by the bloody repression of the martial law years, have made him one of the nation's most polarising politicians.

He has benefited from a deluge of misinformation on social media aimed at a largely young electorate with no memory of the corruption, killings and other abuses committed during his father's 20-year rule.

His campaign was bolstered by teaming up with Sara Duterte, daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the vice presidential race comfortably, and the backing of other political elites.

Mr Marcos Jr and Ms Duterte's shared history as the offspring of authoritarian leaders has alarmed rights groups and many in the religious clergy, who fear they will use their victory to entrench themselves in power.

Has he defended his father's presidency?

Mr Marcos Jr was at boarding school in Britain in 1972 when his father declared martial law, unleashing large-scale corruption and a bloody crackdown on dissent.

He has defended his father's rule by citing the initial surge of economic growth and government spending under martial law, which he said was necessary to save the country from communist rebels and Islamist extremists.

While he describes his father as a "political genius", Mr Marcos Jr has distanced himself from the charges of pillaging state coffers and economic mismanagement that later impoverished the nation.

After the fallen dictator's death in Hawaii in 1989, the Marcoses returned home and began their remarkable revival, getting elected to a succession of higher positions.

Supporters of presidential candidate Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr cheer outside his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila on Monday. EPA

The family's turnaround has been aided by public disenchantment over an enduring gulf between the rich and poor, and graft allegations that marred post-Marcos administrations.

Seeking to avoid a repeat of the 2016 campaign, when he was hounded by questions about his family's past, Mr Marcos Jr this time snubbed debates with rivals and gave few interviews.

Opponents tried in vain to have him disqualified from the race over a previous tax conviction.

They also accused him of exaggerating his educational qualifications and the family of failing to pay nearly $4 billion in estate taxes.

Was he supported by his predecessor Duterte?

Until recently, Mr Duterte was a supporter of Mr Marcos Jr.

But although his party endorsed Mr Marcos Jr for president, Mr Duterte called him a "weak" leader.

This fuelled speculation that Mr Duterte, who faces an international probe into his deadly war on drugs, was trying to secure assurances from Mr Marcos Jr for when he is out of office.

In the final week of campaigning, as Ms Robredo appeared to be gaining momentum, Mr Marcos Jr gave a warning about vote-rigging, without providing any evidence.

"We will win as long as you stay awake on Monday," Mr Marcos Jr told fans at his final campaign rally.

"Many undesirable things happen if we stop paying attention."

Updated: June 30, 2022, 6:34 AM
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