Rodrigo Duterte could not leave the throne of the Philippines without taking out one last card he had in store against the brave journalist who has stood up to one of the most controversial political figures of the last decade. On the eve of the Asian country inaugurating a new era with the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the helm, the government of the outgoing Duterte ordered the closure of the digital newspaper of the Nobel Peace Prize winner María Ressa.
Duterte’s popularity inside the Philippines has been stoked for years by many media powers the leader had eating out of his hand. To the media that did not follow him, he tried to silence them. That happened with the Rappler portal, founded by Ressa, always relentless in his defense of human rights and in his criticism of Duterte, who managed on Wednesday, on his last day in office, to knock down one of the most solid speakers of the freedom of press in the Philippines.
Duterte’s time has expired. Retired from politics at the age of 77, the man who triumphed at home with his slogan against drugs and who became known on the international stage for leading a war that has officially left around 7,000 alleged drug traffickers dead, although human rights organizations They point out that many of the murders are victims attacked by mistake who fell in the hunt ordered by the former Philippine leader.
Duterte is leaving, but his name will remain at the forefront of politics. His daughter, Sara Duterte Carpio, is the elected vice president who will accompany the new tenant of the Malacañang palace during the next legislature: Ferdinand Marcos Jr (64 years old), known as “Bongbong”, who has been sworn in as the seventeenth president of the Philippines this Thursday at a ceremony at the National Museum in Manila in front of hundreds of local and foreign dignitaries, and 15,000 police and soldiers deployed in the capital.
Coincidentally, Marcos Jr takes office on the 50th anniversary of martial law decreed during his father’s dictatorship. The success of the new president is due to the fact that he managed to rewrite the legacy of his mentor as the golden years of the Philippines, where peace and economic prosperity abounded, turning the 70,000 prisoners, 34,000 tortured and 3,240 dead during the regime of his father -according to Amnesty International estimates – little more than rumors and lies.
That speech was the one that was recorded among the more than 30 million people who voted for him throughout the archipelago with 7,600 islands. Duterte’s substitute got 10 million more ballots than his main rival with an exercise of collective amnesia that he forged from social networks, avoiding electoral debates with other candidates.
The exultant mass that cheered Marcos Jr this Thursday seems to have forgotten the crimes with the signature of his surname and the corruption that his father wove and of which the son took advantage: the dictator looted the coffers of the State, cut costs in projects of construction, embezzled aid funds abroad and maintained a warren of Swiss bank accounts, all to an estimated $10 billion.
After three decades of lawsuits, the Philippine Supreme Court was able to recover $5 billion of the Marcos fortune. Justice is still fighting in various lawsuits for another 2,400 million that remain in the hands of the family of the man who will be president of the country for the next six years. This week, the Supreme Court ruled against two complaints from the opposition that sought to stop the candidacy of Marcos Jr for alleged tax crimes.
“I’m not here to talk about the past, I’m here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even abundance, of readily available ways and means to do what needs to be done,” said the new president, who inherits from its predecessor, in addition to the populist circulation, a rising economy, although with the threat of inflation. He will also have to try to balance relations with his ally the United States and their disputes with China on the sea they share.
A day after winning the elections, Marcos Jr visited his father’s grave in the family stronghold of Ilocos Norte, and issued a statement calling the late dictator – who died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 – the “inspiration who taught me the value and meaning of true leadership.
The Marcos dynasty has returned to power in the same country from which they fled by helicopter in 1986. Imee Marcos, Marcos Jr’s sister and a senator, said a few weeks ago that her brother’s victory would allow the rehabilitation of her family’s name and legacy. .
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