Philippines: Son of ex-dictator Marcos to run for president

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr – seen with his wife and sister in 2018 – is also known as “Bongbong”

The son of the Philippines’ former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, has announced that he will run for president in next year’s election.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, popularly known as Bongbong, announced his candidacy in a video post on Facebook.

The 64-year-old, who is an ally of current President Rodrigo Duterte, pledged to bring “unifying leadership” to the country.

His father ruled the Philippines for 20 years until he was overthrown in 1986.

Marcos Sr seized dictatorial power in 1972, a year before his second term in office was due to expire, by placing the Philippines under martial law. He padlocked congress, ordered the arrest of political rivals and ruled by decree.

His rule was characterised by widespread extrajudicial killings and the torture of opponents. He was finally ousted by an army-backed “people power” uprising. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.

Marcos Jr is the former president’s only son. A long-term politician, he served as a senator from 2010 to 2016, before narrowly losing out in a run for the vice-presidency in 2016.

He is the latest politician to announce an intention to run to succeed President Duterte, who is banned by the constitution from seeking another term. The former boxing world champion, Manny Pacquiao, and the mayor of Manila, Francisco Domagoso, have already declared their candidacy.

Mr Marcos is widely popular among many young people and his family retains support in its traditional stronghold of Ilocos Norte.

However, he has faced accusations of attempting to whitewash his father’s regime by citing economic growth, and minimising the human rights abuses during that time.

He has also claimed that he was too young to shoulder any blame for the crimes committed under his father’s regime, despite holding office as governor of the family’s home province from 1983 to 1986 while in his twenties.

Some analysts have predicted the possibility of an alliance between Mr Marcos and Sara Duterte, daughter of the current president and mayor of Davao City.

Mr Duterte has long allied himself with the Marcos family. He granted the ex-dictator’s remains a hero’s burial in 2016 and publicly floated the idea of winding down the hunt for his hidden wealth.

If Mr Marcos were elected, it would cap a remarkable political comeback for the family. Since their return from exile, members of the family have held a number of political offices. His mother was a four-term congresswoman and his sister is a senator and former governor. (BBC)

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