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Ferdinand Marcos Jr praises late father’s legacy as he is sworn in as Philippine president

Ferdinand Marcos Jr praises late father’s legacy as he is sworn in as Philippine president
Ferdinand Marcos Jr was sworn in as president of the Philippines on Jun 30, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe)

MANILA: Ferdinand Marcos Jr was sworn in as president of the Philippines on Thursday (Jun 30) afternoon, completing a stunning comeback for one of Asia's most famous political dynasties, 36 years after it was ousted in a popular uprising.

The son of the Philippines' late dictator Ferdinand Marcos succeeds Rodrigo Duterte, who gained international infamy for his deadly drug war and has threatened to kill suspected dealers after he leaves office.

Popularly known as "Bongbong", Marcos Jr, 64, won last month's elections by a landslide, securing the biggest victory since his father was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986.

Marcos Jr took the oath at midday in a public ceremony at the National Museum in Manila in front of hundreds of local and foreign dignitaries, including Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and US Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff.

In a speech that echoed his campaign slogans of unity, Marcos Jr vowed to take the country far on his watch with policies benefiting everyone, and thanked the public for delivering what he called "the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy".

"You will not be disappointed, so do not be afraid," he said at his inauguration ceremony, surrounded by his family.

"This is a historic moment for us all," said Marcos Jr. "By your vote, you rejected the politics of division."

In a rousing, 30-minute address with sister Imee, a senator, and mother Imelda, a former congresswoman, seated nearby, Marcos Jr also praised his late father's regime, which critics describe as a dark period of human rights abuses and corruption.

The elder Ferdinand Marcos ruled for two decades from 1965, almost half of it under martial law, helping him to extend his power until his overthrow and his family's retreat into exile during a "people power" revolution.

Thousands of his opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and billions of dollars of missing state wealth. The Marcos family denies embezzlement.

"I once knew a man who saw how little had been achieved since independence ... He got it done," Marcos Jr said, claiming his father built more roads and produced more rice than all of his predecessors combined.

"So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me." He added: "No looking back in anger or nostalgia."

Incoming Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr and outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte take part in the inauguration ceremony for Marcos Jr at the Malacanang presidential palace grounds in Manila on Jun 30, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Francis R Malasig, Pool)
Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Rodrigo Duterte salute during the inauguration ceremony for Marcos Jr at the Malacanang presidential palace grounds in Manila on Jun 30, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Francis R Malasig, Pool)
Outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is escorted as he reviews an honour guard in the inauguration ceremony for Ferdinand Marcos Jr at the Malacanang presidential palace grounds in Manila on Jun 30, 2022. (Photo: AFP/Francis R Malasig, Pool)

More than 15,000 police, soldiers and coast guard personnel were deployed across the capital for the inauguration.

Ahead of the swearing-in, Duterte received Marcos Jr at the Malacanang presidential palace.

Duterte, 77, wore a mask and his traditional formal shirt, characteristically unbuttoned at the top and with sleeves rolled up, for the meeting with Marcos Jr.

The ceremony comes days after the Supreme Court dismissed final attempts to have Marcos Jr disqualified from the election and prevent him taking office.

The elder Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 for two decades, almost half of it under martial law, helping him to extend his grip on power until his overthrow and his family's retreat into exile during a 1986 "people power" revolution.

Thousands of Marcos opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from state coffers. The Marcos family has rejected accusations of embezzlement.

Close by, hundreds protested against Marcos, angered by a campaign his critics say relied heavily on social media to win votes by debunking narratives of Marcos-era abuses and decadence and offering alternative versions of history.

Carrying banners saying "Reject, Marcos" they gathered at the Plaza Miranda, where some of his father's opponents were killed and injured in a bombing blamed on communists.

The former senator and congressman campaigned on the slogan "together, we shall rise again", invoking nostalgia for his father's rule, which his family and supporters have portrayed as a golden age for the Philippines, a former US colony.

At a heroes' monument, victims of persecution under martial law gathered for their own oath-taking, promising to guard against what they called tyranny and lies.

"The survivors are a vanishing breed, if not an endangered species and the time to correct falsehoods and lay bare the truth is now," said Cristina Bawagan, who said she suffered abuse under the elder Marcos' rule.

His son has pledged to deliver jobs and bring down consumer prices in a country of 110 million people, nearly a quarter of whom live on less than US$2 per day.

In a stirring 30-minute speech, Marcos Jr pledged education reforms, to improve food sufficiency, infrastructure, waste management and energy supply and to give full support for millions of overseas Filipino workers.

He said he would not disappoint the public and would improve food sufficiency, education, infrastructure and energy supply, tackle plastics pollution and better support millions of overseas Filipino workers.

"I am ready for the task," he said. "I will get it done."

Source: Agencies/aj

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