On May 9, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the former dictator, was swept to the presidency of the Philippines after the brutal years of populist Rodrigo Duterte. Thanks to a disinformation campaign on social networks, the newly elected reinstalls his clan, which had been driven out in 1986, to power.
Income-six years after the fall of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, in 1986, the triumphal election of his son to the presidency, Monday, May 9, is not only the revenge of a clan. It also says a lot about the difficulties of democracies in the face of populism, at a time of what the Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Maria Ressa, distinguished in 2021, calls the “new information ecosystems”, where coexist, compete and intertwine media and social networks.
Appointed governor of a province under the presidency of his father, then deputy and senator after the family returned to the Philippines in 1991, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, known as ” Bongbong ” or “BBM”, is no stranger to the paternal dictatorship. nor a newcomer to politics. But his election was carried by pernicious revisionism, conveyed by YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok, which in the eyes of many Filipinos transformed the ruthless reign of the Marcos into a golden age, despite the amount of historical work and records revealing the crimes and abuses of martial law, proclaimed in 1972, as well as the virtual bankruptcy of the Philippine economy in 1984 and 1985.
This spectacular reversal is fueled by several paradoxes. While the Philippines suffer from the stranglehold of large families on political institutions, the accession to the presidency of “BBM” announces a new family takes over – almost all the seats to be filled in their northern stronghold, Ilocos Norte, there has been been been returned. Admittedly, the archipelago remains a democracy, but its flaws, revealed by the brutal and cavalier governance of the outgoing president, the populist Rodrigo Duterte, offer the new head of state sufficient leeway to weaken him further, in particular by putting an end to the efforts to recover the colossal sums looted by his family. Favorite candidate of the most popular classes
Extremely wealthy, little known for his hard work, Marcos Jr is the preferred candidate of the most working classes who is crowding into the huge slums of Manila. He also benefits from the persistent denigration of his adversaries, in particular, his rival Leni Robredo, who qualified as “leftists “, even “communist”, the fruit of these crude amalgams which have good press in the Philippines, where there remains an inactive armed communist guerrilla. These amalgams make any activist for social justice and democracy a potential communist and therefore a “terrorist”.
The new president took advantage of the circumstances. After the fall of his father and a series of alternations between pro-democracy candidates, but perceived as elitist, and popular figures with varying motivations, Rodrigo Duterte’s accession to power in 2016 marked a turning point: this caricature before the time of Donald Trump, by his excesses and his excesses of a false man of the people (he is also an heir), inaugurated a world cycle of right-wing populists.
His excesses, however, did not revolt the Filipinos. On the contrary, the election of “BBM” owes much to its tandem with the daughter of Duterte, Sara Duterte, elected vice-president, on which the persistent popularity of the father was transferred. According to Maria Ressa, who denounces the “digital colonialism” of the big social networking platforms, capable of “turning lies into truth” , the return of the Marcos to power in the Philippines has warning value.