Victory a reversal of fortunes


Jubilant crowd: Supporters of Marcos Jr celebrating as results show him taking an unassailable lead in the national elections in Mandaluyong City. — Reuters

MANILA: Ferdinand Marcos Jr won a landslide victory in Monday’s Philippine presidential election as voters pinned their hopes on him to bolster the national economy amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

Marcos Jr, who is the son of former President Ferdinand Marcos, secured over 30 million votes, according to unofficial data released by the Commission on Elections yesterday.

His running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, the 43-year-old daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, also won by a majority in the vice-presidential race.

Marcos Jr has the backing of both his family’s loyalists in the country’s north and Duterte-Carpio’s supporters in the south, dubbed the “solid north-south”.

He won the endorsement of many political parties and officials across the country.

Analysts said Marcos Jr’s social media campaign successfully attracted millions of young people who formed the bulk of the voters.

“Marcos Jr called for unity among Filipinos, and he was seen as the only candidate who will pursue the legacy of Duterte, something that the majority of Filipinos clamour for,” said Anna Malindog-Uy, a researcher of Philippine-BRICS Strategic Studies.

During his campaign, Marcos Jr pledged to work to develop the country by addressing the impact of the lingering pandemic, creating new jobs, improving digital infrastructure and agriculture, enhancing public health and stimulating domestic consumption.

The former senator is expected to strengthen ties with the Philippines’ neighbours, reported Bernama.

Last year, Marcos Jr told local media that China and the Philippines were neighbours and consolidating the good-neighbourly friendship between the two countries was for the people’s benefit.

He vowed to strengthen bilateral relations and promote cooperation in economy and trade, education, people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

One of his priorities is to revive a struggling economy in his six-year term. Data from Philippine Statistics Authority showed that 23.7% of the country’s population of nearly 110 million live in poverty.

The unemployment rate peaked at 17.6% in April 2020 amid the pandemic and fell to 6.4% this February, still above the pre-pandemic level of 5.1% in 2019.

More people are expected to get jobs as the government eases Covid-19 restrictions, allowing more businesses to resume operations or increase capacity.

From 2020 to this January, the Department of Finance said the Philippines had borrowed 1.3 trillion pesos (about US$25bil) to fund efforts against Covid-19.

According to Asian Development Bank, the Philippine government’s debt-to-GDP ratio widened to 60.5% in 2021 from 54.6% in 2020.

“The Marcos administration should address rising expectations from the people in their daily struggle against unemployment, inflation, poor health services, especially amid the pandemic, and the huge amount of foreign debts incurred by the government,” said Bobby M. Tuazon, director of Policy Studies at the Centre for People Empowerment in Governance of the Philippines.

According to the Asian Development Bank’s forecast in the Asian Development Outlook 2022, the Philippine economy is expected to grow by 6% this year, rising further by 6.3% in 2023.

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