I’ve been tweeting non-stop about the Philippine elections for weeks now, and I bet it’s starting to annoy some people. Haha. But I think it just shows the urgency and importance of the upcoming elections. I’ve never been this involved and passionate about politics before, and I think I can safely assume the same for a lot of my fellow countrymen. The stakes are really high this time.
Context: the Philippines will be electing its president and vice president on May 9 later this year. The current frontrunner is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The Marcoses are infamous for their corruption. The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency assigned to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth, has recovered more than ₱171B as of 2019. Here are a few references to those interested:
- REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PETITIONER, VS. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION), FERDINAND E. MARCOS (REPRESENTED BY HIS ESTATE/HEIRS: IMELDA R. MARCOS, MARIA IMELDA [IMEE] MARCOS-MANOTOC, FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR. AND IRENE MARCOS-ARANETA) AND IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS, RESPONDENTS
- FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR. PETITIONER, VS. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT, RESPONDENT
- ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, PETITIONER, VS. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT. IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS AND IRENE MARCOS ARANETA, PETITIONERS, VS. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT
- Swiss Bank Found with $800 Million in Marcos’s Name
- The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?
Basically, yeah, the Marcoses are corrupt. Bongbong Marcos was also convicted for non-filing of ITRs for four consecutive years, and he has lied about his education multiple times, claiming that he has a bachelor’s degree in the University of Oxford, when in fact he doesn’t.
People are crazy about this guy. I genuinely don’t understand why. Disinformation, misinformation, and historical distortion are rampant on social media, especially Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, and a lot of uninformed Filipinos are eating it all up like crazy. It’s a long story, but under the Duterte administration, a lot of Filipinos began to distrust the major news media, viewing them as “biased,” and instead only engage with alternative news media and vloggers, which are often rife with pro-Marcos propaganda and fake news. A lot of Marcos supporters deny the ill-gotten wealth. They also claim that during Marcos Sr.’s presidency, the Philippines was at its “golden era” when in fact the data say otherwise, leaving the country in great debt that we’re still paying for until now, not to mention all the human rights violations committed during Martial Law. The Marcos dictatorship was ended by the People Power Revolution. This was how we got our democracy back. Why in the world would we bring another Marcos, the son, back to Malacañang? And even if we separate Marcos Jr. from his father, what has he really done in all his years as a public servant?
This is what we’re up against.
This is why a lot of Filipinos like me are making a lot of noise about the upcoming elections. We don’t want him to win.
The second leading candidate in the pre-election surveys is Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, the current Vice President of the Philippines. (She and Bongbong actually competed for the position in the 2016 elections, and she won. They’re basically rivals.) In a perfect world, she would be the no-brainer, obvious choice to be the next president. She has the experience, the accomplishments, the platforms, the track record, and the intent to serve — a genuine public servant through and through. But for the past five years as Vice President, she has been the biggest victim of disinformation especially on social media, and it continues until now, marring her reputation to the general public. She has opposed and criticized President Duterte and the current administration on many things as well, making his supporters dislike her. Given that Duterte won the last election, that’s a lot of people. Despite all this, she was still able to do so much as Vice President, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other leading candidates include Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno Domagoso, Ping Lacson, and Ka Leody de Guzman. There are actually ten presidential candidates in total, but let’s be real, the fight is really between Marcos and Robredo. I’m 100% sure that either one of them will be the next president.
If it isn’t obvious yet, she is my choice for president. Out of all the candidates, I think she is the most qualified and the readiest for the presidency. She is advocating transparency, accountability, and people empowerment. And she has the receipts to show for it.
I’m desperate for her to win.
And so many others feel the same way. A “pink movement” has begun. (Pink is Robredo’s campaign color.) Volunteers from all over the country are forming groups and are campaigning for her in their own way, independent of her official campaign. There are Lawyers for Leni, Teachers for Leni, Engineers for Leni, Doctors for Leni, Writers for Leni, Artists for Leni, Creatives for Leni, Youth for Leni, BPO Employees for Leni, IT Professionals for Leni, Students for Leni — you name it. During her proclamation rally last February 8, rallies were held by her supporters in their cities all over the country — even though Leni wasn’t physically there. I’ve never experienced this phenomenon before. People are going out of their way to support a presidential candidate, pouring so much effort, time, and money on their own. She has inspired this volunteerism that I don’t see in the other candidates’ campaigns. It’s become a real “people’s campaign.”
I’m hesitant to say this, but to me, it has become a moral battle. Here’s one candidate who’s fighting for good governance, who has a track record of good public service, who doesn’t have any corruption issues, and here’s another who’s a liar, who hasn’t really done much in all his years as a public servant, and whose family has become the personification of corruption. It should be an easy choice, shouldn’t it?
This is where my — and a lot of people’s — frustration is from. I’m frustrated that a lot of people are turning a blind eye to this man’s dirty laundry. I’m frustrated that people revere him, even though he hasn’t really proven his worth as a presidential candidate; he barely attends interviews, fora, and debates. I’m frustrated by the blind fanaticism of some Filipinos. I’m frustrated that so many people fall for fake news, that so many people don’t bother to fact-check or do their own research. I’m frustrated that the Marcos camp capitalizes on this, that they treat Filipinos as dumb people who don’t know how to think critically. I’m frustrated and angry.
Frustrated enough that I’m campaigning for Leni and against Bongbong in a pro-Duterte (and therefore pro-Marcos) household. And oh, boy, is it a process…
For once in my life, I’m so desperate for good to win. Please. And I really believe we have a chance.
Of course, it’s not possible without actual effort. The campaign period just started, and I’m sure things are going to get crazier in the next couple of months. We’re going to be campaigning and rooting for her extra hard.
So I’m not going to shut up. I’m going to be talking about this again and again.