The kleptocratic, despotic and oppressive conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in the Philippines (1965-1986) has been transformed for many into the myth of the Marcos compassionate, patriotic and modernizers of the country, a story that has catapulted his son bongbong at the gates of the presidency.
“Everything is lies, everything bad they say about Marcos is false”vehemently asserts John John, a 32-year-old security guard who watches over the Spanish colonial city of Intramuros, adding that the spread of adulterated information about the dynasty comes from “the communists.”
According to the latest poll published this Thursday, Marcos Jr. would win the elections with 57% of the votes in the elections next Monday, May 9, a disconcerting majority for many Filipinos, who will elect the successor to the controversial president, Rodrigo Duterte.
According to the polls, Marcos Jr. would win the elections with 57% of the votes
The disinformation campaign with which the image has been whitened began more than two decades ago, but has intensified in recent years, according to experts consulted by Eph. In 1986, Ferdinand Marcos is overthrown by a peaceful revolution and the whole family is forced to flee on a military plane to Hawaii (USA), where the dictator died three years later.
In the presidential palace of Malacañang, who left on the run left a huge amount of luxury items, a collection of more than 3,000 shoes or unique jewelry valued at millions of dollars. It was an appetizer of the true looting of the public treasury that would come to lightestimated between 5,000 and 10,000 million and considered for years as the largest government robbery in history, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
Imelda tried to regain the presidency in 1992, running for president shortly after returning to the archipelago, but the harsh years of Martial Law were too close and got only 10% of the votes.
Since then, she and her children have been occupying positions of power in Congress, the Senate and their regional fiefdom of Ilocos while rearming themselves to meet, 30 years later, the ideal conditions for the return to the palace of Malacañang.
Bonbong will not apologize for the crimes committed by his father’s government
Social networks such as Tiktok, YouTube or Facebook these days show videos glorifying the Marcos era, drawing an idyllic image of the regime, in which numerous infrastructures were built and in which the Philippines gained international significance.
Like the military marches with Ferdinand and Imelda at the head with messages alluding to the “Asian tiger”, in reference to the economic boom in various countries of Southeast Asia between the 60s and 90s, among which the Philippines never figured, among others reasons why the financial crisis and runaway inflation during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
The candidate bongbong Marcos, who has avoided at all costs undergoing difficult interviews and attending electoral debates, he does not believe that he should apologize for the crimes committed during the government of his fatheralthough he has abandoned the arrogance of the past, when he went so far as to say that the victims of torture were moved by greed to obtain compensation.
Some 3,257 dissidents and activists were killed, more than 50,000 were tortured, and the press was brutally silenced during the Martial Law that his father imposed from 1972 to 1981.
Population vulnerable to disinformation
The rewriting of history has found a fundamental ally in the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, who, according to Jean Encinas-Franco, Professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines (UP), “has paved the way for the candidacy of bongbong frames“.
The favorite candidate for the elections has taken advantage to sweeten the figure of his father thanks to the nationalist and populist current of Duterte, a declared admirer of the dictator, whom he decided to bury in the Manila Heroes Cemetery after decades of controversy.
56% of Filipino voters did not experience Martial Law
“I think that was the final slate of the history of martial law in the Philippines,” reflects Encinas-Franco in an interview for Eph. The narrative of the Marcos as the solution to the ills that afflict the Filipinos has found a fertile field in a very young and poorly educated population. According to data from the Electoral Commission (COMELEC), 56% of Filipinos registered to vote are under the age of 41so they did not experience Martial Law (1972-1981).
This disinformation campaign has been favored by an ideal ecosystem for fake news on the internet, in a country that leads the world ranking of daily use of social networks, according to data from the World Global Index in 2021.
Marcos’s propaganda team also takes advantage of the poor economic situation of a country unable to remedy the problem of poverty and to offer inclusive growth, which contributes to create “a false authoritarian nostalgia”, according to Encinas-Franco. Imelda Marcos’ famous phrase is gaining more prominence today in the Philippines: “Perception is real, truth is not.”