A Historic Comeback: Philippine Presidential Election 2022

The world probably was extremely shocked when the Filipino people elected overwhelmingly on May 9, 2022 the son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., “Bongbong,” as the 17th president of the Philippines. Why? Because the international media have portrayed Marcos (called “Dictator”), his wife Imelda, his cronies, and his regime as the monstrous thief of the last century whose Martial Law regime “killed thousands” of dissidents, incarcerating prominent political enemies, and committing the gravest human rights violations on record.

In February 1986, after 20 years in power, Marcos was removed from power through the peaceful People Power Revolution in EDSA (E. Delos Santos Ave.), AND taken away (together with his family) by US operatives and flown to Hawaii where Marcos Sr. died a few years later. Marcos and his wife Imelda have been called “magnanakaw” (thief), accused as plunderers of the Philippine coffers, with hundreds of bank accounts all over the world. Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino (the widow of slain Marcos’ nemesis, Benigno Aquino, Jr.) became the president of the country as a result, overhauled the government, and released incarcerated Marcos’ enemies and political dissidents. The Philippine government under the late President Corazon Aquino did all it can to recover Marcos’ assets which were labelled “ill-gotten wealth,” and was successful in getting some but not that many due to reasons only the courts and legal minds determined. The Marcos family has maintained that Marcos accumulated his wealth even before he became president and that such increased wealth (because of interests) was intended for the Filipino people, as clearly stated in the objectives of the Marcos Foundation and Marcos’ last will and testament.

The Marcos family went back home to the Philippines after the death of Marcos Sr. In Hawaii and started to enter politics once again. It wasn’t a surprise when Imelda Marcos won a congressional seat representing her district in Leyte province, while her son, Bongbong (Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., likewise began to get elected to local government positions. Her oldest daughter Imee, also got elected to local-government leadership positions, and now one of the country’s senators. Bongbong also became governor of his father’s province in Ilocos Norte, and later elected senator of the country, as well. He ran for Vice President in 2016 but was “defeated” by Leni Robredo, and subsequently filed an election protest claiming massive vote manipulation/election fraud, which never prospered in court. His “pain” obviously was replaced with its opposite today!

This recently concluded presidential election was historic, truly one for the record. Bongbong Marcos won overwhelmingly -- more than 31 million votes, while Leni Robredo got a little more than 14 million! Let me say that there was NO massive election-related cheating that happened. There were tons of independent international observers, candidates’ representatives and supporters in ALL precincts (even in small barangays) who stayed until all votes were cast and transmitted to the Commission on Elections in Manila, the Parish Pastoral Council that made sure of the authenticity of the votes being counted by COMELEC, as well as other non-profits (NAMFREL, et al) that served as vote watchdogs.

I voted, as a Fil-Am (a Filipino with dual citizenship), in the barangay where I now live. The precinct was in Palasan Elementary School. It was truly a very orderly process, even considering a huge number of registered voters around. I was amazed to see several senior citizens and persons with disability in wheelchairs all lined up waiting for their turn despite the extreme heat that day. After my vote and when I stepped out of the school to go back home, I recognized a familiar elderly woman with cane just about to enter the school. She smiled and asked me, “Who did you vote for president?” I said, “Secret!” She whispered, “I am for BBM. Marcos built all our specialty hospitals that cared for many members of my family, including me! No other president after him has thought about doing that! Maybe BBM will do wonders, too!” I could only smile back and say to myself, “Well, she has a point there.”

I continued to walk home and met a neighbor and relative about to vote. We greeted each other and I asked him, “Who’s your president?” He said proudly, “BBM! We need discipline in this country. Too much freedom has made our youth regress into disrespectful kids. I miss the curfews and the school courses on military training and good manners & right conduct [GMRC] which were removed by other presidents! BBM and Sara Duterte will surely put them back.” “Good luck!” was my way of saying “I hope so, too!”

I saw many voters going to the polls wearing red shirts -- the color of BBM-Sara tandem. I am sure they have various reasons for voting for Marcos Jr. Our friends in America would probably say, “Are Filipinos sick? Have they forgotten history?”

I’d say, Filipinos are sick and tired of presidents who have repeatedly failed to achieve better for the masses of the Filipino people. Thievery and graft and corruption have existed in all administrations even after Marcos. No, Filipinos have not forgotten their history, including the good part which Marcos Sr. achieved for them. If you ask me, I like the part when Marcos Sr. purged the government of undesirables he removed officials and employees who were unqualified, such as non-accountants who were hired as auditors of government funds! I like the part when poor uneducated housewives were given jobs as street sweepers in uniform, giving them pride as earners and cleaners of roads that used to be eyesores (Their job no longer exists now!) I also like the part where kids were kept at home early enough so they can focus on their schoolwork, and adults avoided night life that usually broke relationships at home. In addition, I like the part where energy-related projects were setup to make our country, hopefully less dependent from foreign oil providers. But of course, when Marcos left, a lot of deletions happened and new programs emerged, whether “good” or otherwise.

To the majority of the Filipinos, Marcos “Bongbong” Jr. will re-create the “Bagong Lipunan” (New Society) which his late father-president envisioned during his presidency. In general, Filipinos want a very strong leader because our people rarely follow a lame duck. I just pray that whatever wealth Marcos Sr. left truly benefit the Filipino people, especially the needy, the poor, the farmers, etc., not the few rich that own or politically control our economy.