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Philippines’ presidential candidate Marcos avoids discussing previous atrocities

FILE PHOTO: Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr and son of late former dictator Ferdinand Marcos is greeted by his supporters upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in metro Manila, Philippines April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco/File Photo

After ignoring media questions concerning his father’s autocratic leadership and overthrow in a popular uprising 35 years ago, Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr has made it clear that he will not rehash the past.

The news: Marcos, 64, the early frontrunner in polls for 2022, has been deflecting questions about a harsh era of martial law that began seven years into his father’s presidency from 1965 to 1986, instead espousing a message of unity.

What he said: “What questions are going to be asked that have not been asked? And how many answers do you have to give that have not been given before?”, Marcos told One News television late on Monday, appearing exasperated by an interview question. 

  • “Nothing is going to change.”

His detractors argue that his family has not adequately addressed or apologised for past misdeeds, and that the presidency would be the climax of a decades-long whitewashing operation.

“Bongbong”, as Marcos is best known, insists his only motivation is to serve the people.

  • The public wants to know how he expects to recover from the pandemic, which has killed 53,000 people in the Philippines, infected 3 million people, and wreaked havoc on the economy, he added.
  • “Those issues are more important. We will no longer go back to 35-year old issues,” Marcos said.

What’s important: While his campaign has enraged victims of atrocities committed under his father’s regime, polls show he has a good chance of defeating his opponents, including boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.

  • Marcos’ high showing in polls is credited to his skilled social media operation, according to political observers.
  • Marcos has never had a “troll” army, but he has underlined the importance of social media in his campaign after Twitter terminated hundreds of accounts endorsing Marcos for breaking rules on manipulation and spam.
  • Marcos has been elected governor, congressman, and senator since his family returned from exile after fleeing the “people power” revolution, and his family remains one of the wealthiest and most powerful forces in Philippine politics.
  • Thousands of his father’s opponents were arrested, tortured, assaulted, and killed during the martial law regime, which lasted from 1972 to 1981.
  • The Marcos family has been accused of stealing billions from public funds, which it denies.

“By offering the greatest plans, best ideas, and proving them I’m honest,” Marcos said he wanted to attract victims of martial law to support his candidacy.

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