By Joemar Yubokmee
Cartoon by Aureus Ken Pupa

The late dictator’s son and the incoming 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines Ferdinand "Bongbong" Romualdez Marcos Jr. has been on the receiving end of backlashes for his late father’s role in the curtailment of free speech and widespread human rights abuses committed during his 20-year dictatorship. Wanting a fresh, new breath before he assumed office as the 17th president of the republic, he asked the world to judge him not by his ancestors’ but by his actions–so we did.

Marcos Jr. has been sitting on government positions for an accumulative time of 27 years and despite almost three decades worth of public administration, he seems to never have built a name for himself. In fact, his presidential campaign revolved on reminiscing the ‘supposed’ golden era of his father’s legacy.

The early years of his life were a testament to his privilege. He was sent to top schools and universities and was even mentored by top economist, Solita Monsod when he flunked his cut-off exam in Economics and Politics as a freshman at Oxford. Records obtained by Vera Files divulged communications between the Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom, Oxford University, and the late dictator Marcos, as well as communications between Philippine ambassadors to the United States and the United Nations and Marcos Sr.—all in the pursuit of either getting Bongbong admitted or making excuses and figuring out how to improve Bongbong’s academic status which was mostly failing or incomplete. Despite all the efforts exhausted by the Philippine government, Bongbong was unable to finish any degree from Oxford or even Wharton—different from what he is claiming. 

For the record, failure to obtain a college degree is not something someone should be ashamed of but misleading the public about acquiring the said degree is something only a fraud would do. Moreover, failing, in spite of all the privileges one enjoys. is unbecoming of a national president and only speaks to his incompetence. The president, as the Chief Executive of the country, would be bestowed powers and special privileges for him to be able to execute his duties and responsibilities. The difference now is that when he fails yet again, he would not only fail as an individual but he will also fail the country, which because of the pandemic, has its economy on its lowest level since World War II and the dilemma of a 63.5% debt-to-GDP ratio.

Marcos Jr. is also unapologetic over his father’s misdeeds. He even orchestrated a large-scale online campaign that spearheads historical denialism where narratives of the thousands of recorded state-initiated violence and killings, BIR estate tax deficiencies, and official court rulings that attest to Marcoses’ corruption and human rights violations are dismissed as mere ‘negative campaigning strategies’.

It is alarming to think how acts of historical denialism and disinformation have spelled the outcome of the recent national election and it is more terrifying to ponder how an administration could change the perception and narratives so well that even the truth could be reduced to sheer rubbles. These very acts are in juxtaposition to the unity that the new administration is trying to welcome because true unity can never be achieved when one continues to delude people – an act that Marcos Jr. had done so well that emerged as the victor of this election.

Bongbong Marcos can say not to judge him based on the acts of his ancestors all he wants but he can never deny, at least to those who think critically, the fact that his acts never exhibited anything that would at least hint that he wouldn’t be another corrupt dictator like his father, or even far worse because of his alliance with Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the incumbent populist president and the  alleged mastermind of Davao death squad. At the end of the day, Marcos Jr.’s attempt to disassociate himself from his father is comical and laughable considering that he was able to get a majority vote the same way his father did – by brute force, maybe not by physical means, but certainly by shoving his personal twisted narrative into people’s mind.