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A worrying comeback


Diana G. Mendoza

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the namesake son of the late dictator, will take his oath on June 30, 2022 because the Philippines’ subsequent president, the results of an election that members of the International Observer Mission (IOM) say was “very removed from truthful.”

Thirty-six years in the past, he and his household had been pressured to flee Malacañang Palace, the Philippine chief govt’s workplace (and, on the time, official residence), amid a People Power Revolution that later impressed comparable uprisings in Southeast Asia and past. Now that the Marcoses are poised to return to the Palace, political analysts say that the comeback of authoritarian rule in Southeast Asia is all however full.

Cleve Arguelles, assistant professorial lecturer of political science at De La Salle University in Manila, sees the president-elect’s household legacy as a troubling reminder to his country of the little political progress it has made for the reason that ouster of Marcos Jr.’s father in 1986, in addition to to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the place Marcos Jr. “will discover himself at house” as soon as he assumes workplace.

ASEAN is trying like an autocrat’s membership yr after yr,” Arguelles says. And with a Marcos-led Philippine government, he says, Southeast Asia’s governing elites will thrive much more of their persistent efforts to undermine democratic checks and balances on govt energy, in addition to to delegitimize dissent.

Then once more, Arguelles provides, “Our home political growth is a part of the regional and worldwide tectonic shifts threatening the long-term sturdiness of democracies.”

“In the previous years, we’ve witnessed a global wave of autocratization — a surge in autocratic politics in numerous countries around the globe, primarily by way of the gradual erosion of democratic establishments and norms,” he says. Referring to Marcos Jr., he notes, “The legacy of his household’s rule, in addition to his refusal to acknowledge the abuses and corruption his household has dedicated, will sit properly in our present political disposition.”

Formidable tandem

According to the educational, Filipinos are conscious of their country’s personal interval of considerable democratic decline particularly below the previous six years of the government of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte as a result of, like many amongst its ASEAN neighbors, including Indonesia and Thailand, “the Philippine government has undermined media freedom, red-tagged civil society, and abused police energy.”

Critics of the Marcos clan count on the administration of Marcos Jr. to be no completely different, not solely as a result of they imagine the president-elect is surrounded by people who wish to carry again the iron-fisted methods of his late father, but additionally as a result of the incoming vice chairman occurs to be Duterte’s personal strong-willed daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Duterte-Carpio was really being persuaded to run for president earlier than she agreed to change into Marcos Jr.’s operating mate within the elections. Their tandem is a coalition between two of essentially the most highly effective — and most infamous — political dynasties within the Philippines.

In a press launch issued after a discussion board in regards to the Philippine elections of civil society organizations (CSOs), parliamentarians, and human rights teams on the House of Representatives of the Belgian Federal Parliament late final month, IOM mentioned that “the mixture of economic desperation and erosion of democracy … created the situations of the return to energy of the Marcoses and the continuation of Duterte’s model of populist demagoguery.”

Glenis Balangue of IBON Europe, a Brussels-based CSO and IOM member, was in the meantime quoted within the press launch as saying, “Under this tandem, we’ve the worst elements of Philippine politics — a political dynasty led to by authoritarianism, financed massively by corruption, characterised by widespread deceit and disinformation with no coherent program for poverty alleviation, job creation, and nationwide growth.”

IOM member Wim De Ceukelaire of the Belgian nongovernment group Viva Salud additionally predicted that Philippine CSOs would proceed to be challenged by trumped-up fees, unlawful arrests, and red-tagging below the incoming administration, as has been the case through the Duterte regime.

De Ceukelaire mentioned, “The international group ought to specific solidarity with the Filipino people by way of numerous methods, now that the prospects of fine governance and accountability (are) extraordinarily dim.”

Members of the IOM, which was launched in February 2022 by the International Coalition for Human Rights within the PhilippinesEurope, had gone to varied areas within the Philippines to watch the elections and to offer impartial monitoring of the political train.

Campaigning with a story of “unity” however with out presenting an precise program of government, Marcos Jr.’s win may be mentioned to be a mixture of assorted components.

Another IOM member, Clarisa Ramos, spokesperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights within the PhilippinesEurope, for one, cited the Marcos household’s efforts to rebrand itself by way of social media trolling and disinformation, including distorting factual historic narratives that often goal younger voters who are energetic on social media. Ramos additionally mentioned that the Duterte government “had an energetic position in revamping the picture of the previous dictator’s household, starting with the burial of Marcos Sr. within the Cemetery of Heroes.”

Change, however not for the higher?

In a current native TV speak present, lawyer and former dean of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government Antonio La Viña in the meantime noticed that the incoming Marcos administration is the “end result of complete elite management over the country’s political system.”

“The success of the Marcos marketing campaign is a vindication not solely of the Marcoses of the final 30 years however of additionally the Marcos-Duterte alliance, two households that received collectively,” he mentioned.

In the identical speak present, political scientist Richard Heydarian mentioned there’s a excessive probability that the Philippines may have a “hybrid regime of authoritarianism” that mixes a consolidation of political households and elites in a predictable government of the identical outdated economic and international insurance policies, an insensitivity to human rights, cronyism, and corruption.

“It’s a same-same state of affairs,” Heydarian mentioned. “Maybe the forged received’t be so completely different however the script might change.”

“I believe constitutional change is nearly inevitable,” he mentioned. “I’m having a tough time seeing Marcos Jr. permitting himself to be confined by a Cory Aquino structure. Things will change; they are going to defund the constitutional checks and balances, they are going to defund the Commission on Human Rights.”

The widow of assassinated former Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, the late Corazon “Cory” Aquino was the rapid successor of Marcos Sr. The 1986 People Power Revolution was sparked largely by Marcos dishonest her within the February 7 presidential snap election that yr. The Cory Aquino government, throughout which the 1987 Constitution was written, marked the restoration of democracy within the Philippines.

Heydarian mentioned that the most probably consequence for the Philippines within the coming years is that “we’re gonna be extra like Hungary or Malaysia, the place you will have elections that, you already know, will solely legitimize the ruling coalitions. It could possibly be Marcos Jr., it could possibly be Sara Duterte, the identical type of people, and it’s very doable below a brand new structure.”

With disinformation and the massive efforts to decimate the standard and bonafide media as the brand new challenges, each La Vińa and Heydarian mentioned that combating disinformation must be ramped up and the country’s opposition has to reinvent itself within the coming years to carry again the belief of people in a liberal democracy.

For certain, only a technology in the past, there gave the impression to be little probability that people would overlook the rapaciousness of the Marcoses and their cronies, which rendered the country bankrupt at the same time as they amassed billions of {dollars}. The older Marcos additionally used brute pressure to suppress political rivals and critics, including pupil activists and journalists.

Yet right now, the Marcos marketing campaign that used social media affect seems to have already had appreciable success in “rewriting” the Martial Law years and the Marcos regime narratives, including the 1986 People Power revolt. That alone had Heydarian conceding that he’s not sure how the following years will unfold. Still, he mentioned, “that is nothing distinctive. We see this pattern all around the globe.”

“In the case of the Philippines, at the very least we had 30 years earlier than one other Marcos got here again into energy,” Heydarian mentioned.

Then he requested: “But what did we do in (these) 30 years?”

*Diana G. Mendoza is a contract journalist primarily based in Manila.

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