Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Philippines choose populist dictatorship over reform yet again

The Philippines seems intent on continuing its bizarre love affair with dictatorships. 

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to win the presidential election easily, with over twice as many votes as his main opponent, human rights campaigner and reformer Leni Robredo. His running mate Sara Duterte also looks set to win handily in the separate vice-presidential election. 

64-year old Marcos - familiarly known to his supporters as "BongBong", for God's sake! - is the son of dictator and "strongman" Ferdinand Marcos, who cast a bloody shadow over the country for over 20 years from 1965 to 1986, and who was hounded into exile for his crimes (along with BongBong). Duterte is the daughter of outgoing dictator and loose cannon Rodrigo Duterte, who presided over 6 years of chaos and murder, and who is currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court for extra-judicial killings.

It's not like the Philippine people had no choice. Marcos Jr's main opponent was Leni Robredo, who narrowly defeated him six years ago for the office of Vice President. She is a respected politician, and a seasoned campaigner for human rights and democracy in the country. But she does not carry the popular charisma of Marcos, the weight of his family connections and money, and his control over Filipino social media.

Either way, the people of the Philippines, eyes open, have deliberately chosen another dictator, at a time when the country is beset by crushing poverty, huge inequalities, potential insurgencies by Muslim and Communist elements, and deep political and social divisions. You could argue that they deserve everything they get, but that would be a gross over-simplification, and it's hard to wish six years of Marcos/Duterte mayhem on anyone.

No comments: