Thursday, May 19, 2022

Marcos Jr. faces calls to ensure democracy, human rights

MANILA, Philippines ( Associated Press) – After conceding defeat to most of his major rivals, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of an overthrown dictator, was called on Wednesday to ensure respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Failed the initial call.

Marcos Jr. secured more than 31 million votes in an unofficial vote count from Monday’s elections in what is estimated to be one of the strongest mandates ever. For a Philippine president in decades. Her vice-presidential race mate Sarah Duterte also appears to have won by a landslide.

The separately elected president and vice-president will assume office on June 30 after the results are confirmed by the Congress. With a single, six-year term, he is set to lead a Southeast Asian nation The economic recovery is desperately needed after two years of COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown. He would also inherit great hopes for crushing poverty, removing inequalities, ending Muslim and communist rebellions and political divisions that were only fueled by his father’s turbulent presidencies.

Marcos Jr.’s major rivals have conceded defeat, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao. Marcos’ closest challenger, Vice President Lenny Robredo, a human rights lawyer who was following through on promises of badly needed reforms, has only acknowledged his massive leadership.

“As a boxer and an athlete, I know how to accept defeat,” Pacquiao said in a video message. “But I hope that if I lose in this battle, my fellow Filipinos who were basking in poverty will also be winners.”

The United States, a longtime treaty ally of the Philippines, was one of the first foreign governments to issue commentary after the elections. It expressed its desire to work with the next Filipino president after an official proclamation, but emphasized that the relationship should be based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.

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“We look forward to renewing our special partnership and working with the next administration on key human rights and regional priorities,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.

He cited Washington’s long alliance with Manila “which shares democratic values ​​and interests,” and said that the US government “will continue to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law that the United States in the Philippines and other bilateral contexts.” fundamental to the relationship.”

Asked whether the US had any concerns with Marcos Jr.’s clear victory, Price brushed off the question, but said the election and subsequent vote counting follows international standards without any major incidents.

The election result was a surprising reversal of the military-backed but largely peaceful “People Power” insurgency that ousted Marcos’ father in 1986 – a democratic victory in an Asian region considered a human rights hotspot where authoritarian regimes flourished. Huh.

Marcos Jr. has strongly defended his father’s legacy and refused to apologize for the rampant human rights violations and looting under his rule. He visited his father’s grave at the National Heroes’ Cemetery on Tuesday, laid flowers and, at one point, appeared overwhelmed with emotion.

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He and Sarah Duterte, daughter of outgoing populist leader Rodrigo Duterte, campaigned on a platform of national unity without saying how they would heal the wounds their father has suffered since the presidency.

The 64-year-old former provincial governor, congressman and senator has kept mom on key political, economic and foreign policy issues, including how she will address calls to prosecute President Duterte, who oversaw a dangerous anti-drugs campaign Was. spark an investigation by the international community and the International Criminal Court.

US-based Human Rights Watch called on Marcos Jr. to take immediate action to improve the human rights situation in the country after taking office, including helping the ICC prosecute Duterte, his longtime closed critic Including freeing and ordering San Lila de Lima. Army and police to stop targeting activists and rights defenders.

More radical leftist groups and survivors of the Marcos dictatorship outright rejected Marcos Jr. and Sarah Duterte, accusing them of whitewashing their father’s legacy on the campaign trail and in social media propaganda.

“Our generation has shown that collective action of the people can defeat even the most brutal tyrants,” said SELDA, a group of former political prisoners and human rights victims in the martial-law era under the late dictator. “Now is the time to use that power again—the power to change the course of history and reject this nefarious pair of traditional politicians.”

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Associated Press Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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