An ally of the Philippines’ next president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is set to dominate both houses of Congress after the late dictator son’s clear electoral victory restored his family to the seat of power.
- Counting shows his allies are set to capture most of the House of Representatives and half of the Senate
- Family members and siblings have also been declared winners of local posts.
- Hundreds of students and anti-Marcos activists protest alleged election fraud
The ongoing count from Monday’s vote shows he is set to capture half of the 300-seat House of Representatives and the 24-seat Senate, and his top leadership is likely.
Their family members and siblings have also been declared winners of local positions, reflecting the political dynasties’ strong hold on Southeast Asian democracy despite a constitutional prohibition that was never enforced.
“It’s going to be problematic because a democracy requires a lot of opposition,” said Jean Franco, a professor of political science at the Philippines’ state-run university.
The electoral victory of Mr. Marcos Jr. and his allies is a stunning reversal of the military-backed but largely peaceful “People Power” uprising in 1986 that forced his father out of office after years of massive human rights atrocities and looting , which his son never accepted. ,
In what is estimated to be one of the strongest majority mandates for a Philippine president in decades, Mr Marcos Jr. had more than 31 million votes by an unofficial count.
His vice-presidential running mate and daughter of outgoing populist leader Sarah Duterte also won by a large margin.
‘It’s like a storm’
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping were among world leaders who have congratulated them for their massive victory and the relatively smooth conduct of elections.
The separately elected president and vice-president are set to assume office on June 30 for a single, six-year term after Congress confirms the results.
Left-wing House Representative Carlos Zarate, whose nine-year term ends in June, told The Associated Press, “It’s like a hurricane, a tsunami in Congress for the opposition.”
“The challenge for the broader opposition is not to accept, but to suppress the fight wherever it is for good governance, accountability and democracy.”
Zarate said that further layoffs would be due to a military operation to link small sections of the left-wing opposition faction to large-scale communist guerrillas in the coming Congress.
Hundreds of students and anti-Marcos activists protested alleged election fraud, including the breakdown of several voting machines, but riot soldiers prevented them from approaching a main counting center in metropolitan Manila.
Vice President Lenny Robredo, a human rights lawyer who has not given up on what is considered the closest challenger to Mr Marcos Jr., was expected to lead a thanksgiving rally on Friday along with his followers.
Marcos Jr.’s cousin, Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, has been endorsed by his party as House Speaker.
Another possible candidate is Mr Romualdez’s ally and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who mediated the coalition of Mr Marcos Jr. and Sarah Duterte.
Only one opposition candidate, Senator Risa Hontiveros, will likely make it to the new slate in the Senate.
In addition to deciding the fate of the president’s legislative agenda and budget proposal, Congress is a key overseer that investigates major government discrepancies and decides on impeachment complaints.
The Duterte and Marcos dynasties assured
For example, a new anti-terrorism bill, opposed by human rights groups, passed smoothly in both houses dominated by aides to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Court cases and legal issues still haunt the late dictator’s family, including the payment of a huge estate tax, the 2018 corruption sentence of his widow, Imelda Marcos, which is on appeal, and torture, detention, disappearances and thousands more. Full compensation to the victims is included. Other atrocities committed in the martial-law era when he was in power.
A brutal anti-drug crackdown launched by Mr Duterte, which killed thousands of mostly petty drug suspects, has sparked an investigation by the International Criminal Court as possible crimes against humanity.
The outgoing leader, known for his hate speech, has said he may face more criminal complaints if he steps down on June 30.
Monday’s elections assured the political longevity of both Marcos and Dutertes.
A son of the presumptive president, Sandro Marcos, was elected to the House as representative of his northern home province of Ilocos Norte, and several relatives held provincial positions.
Sarah Duterte’s brother, Sebastian Duterte, will succeed her as mayor of the city of Southern Davao. Another brother, Paulo Duterte, has been re-elected for another congressional term.
Philippine elections have long been dominated by politicians belonging to the same bloodshed.
At least 250 political families have monopolized power across the country, although such dynasties are prohibited under the constitution.
Congress – long controlled by members of powerful clans targeted by constitutional restrictions – has failed to pass the legislation needed to define and enforce the provision.
The outgoing president, Mr. Duterte, made a political name in the 1980s with his extra-hard campaign against criminality as longtime Davao mayor.
It left hundreds of drug suspects dead and carried out a wide range of similar killings that would follow on the promise of an audacious but unsuccessful campaign to eradicate illegal drugs and corruption in the three to six months after he became president in 2016.