How Marcos rebranding, alliance of kingdoms led to 'tsunami vote'

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2022 01:57 PM | Updated as of May 10 2022 02:07 PM

Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. greets supporters during a a grand rally at the Lima Commercial Estate along the border of Lipa and Malvar Batangas on April 20, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. greets supporters during a a grand rally at the Lima Commercial Estate along the border of Lipa and Malvar Batangas on April 20, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The looming presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. completes a 12-year effort to rebrand the Marcoses via social media, buttressed by alliances with some of the most powerful families in the country, a political analyst said Tuesday.

De La Salle University political science professor Julio Teehankee said Marcos' electoral win is unprecedented; his 30 million votes easily dwarfing the 14.6 million votes garnered by closest rival Leni Robredo, according to latest partial and unofficial results from Comelec. 

"Inaasahan ng iba landslide pero ang nakikita natin tsunami...The very first majority president in the post-Marcos period is a Marcos. Napakalaki, napaka-unprecedented ang number at lamang niya," Teehanke said in an ABS-CBN interview. 

In the 36 years since a popular uprising toppled the Marcos patriarch and chased the family into US exile, the Marcoses have been rebuilding their political fortunes. 

Marcos Jr, known by his nickname "Bongbong", has distanced himself from charges that his father plundered state coffers after declaring martial law in 1972. He has also refused to apologize for human rights abuses during the dictatorship. 

The Presidential Commission on Good Government has said the older Marcos and his cronies stole as much as $10 billion from state coffers before the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising removed him from office. 

In 1995, Bongbong Marcos ran for senator and failed to win a seat "because the EDSA narrative was still fresh," Teehankee said. 

Undaunted, the younger Marcos would serve as vice governor and twice as governor of the family's northern stronghold of Ilocos Norte province, as well as twin stints in the House of Representatives. 

In 2010, he again ran for senator and finally succeeded. Ironically, it was the same year that Benigno Aquino III -- son of the late democracy icon and Marcos nemesis Ninoy Aquino -- won the presidency. 

Marcos ran for vice-president in 2016 but lost to the then-administration candidate Robredo, widow of the late Interior chief Jesse Robredo. Six years later, Marcos has seemingly turned the tables by soundly defeating Robredo. 

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BIDING HIS TIME

For Teehankee, Marcos' victory is the product of a patient effort to change the narrative on the Marcoses, one that paints the martial law years as a golden era of peace and prosperity.

"Successful yung kanyang rebranding, repositioning . After more than 3 decades after EDSA, naisip nila paano ba natin baguhin ang imahe ng mga Marcoses sa publiko," he said. 

"The winning formula for Bongbong Marcos was to change the narrative. Baguhin ang kuwento. He had the resources and he had the time, alam niya na dadating ang panahon na makakalimutan. He bided his time," he added. 

Teehankee said the first video touting the "Real story behind EDSA" came out in 2011, a year after Marcos won a Senate seat. Soon, more videos and websites came out purporting that the martial law era was a "golden age" of peace and prosperity, rather than a harsh and corrupt regime that left the country impoverished.

"As early as 2010 binabago na nila yung kuwento at bago pa ang social media noon. Walang nagchallenge. Natisod nila yung perfect vehicle in changing the narrative," he said. 

In 2016, social media would be used as a weapon, this time targeting Vice President Leni Robredo after Marcos' loss. 

A fact-checking group earlier noted Robredo remains the top target of disinformation in social media, with the attacks intensifying as the 2022 elections neared. 

Research by ABS-CBN News revealed posts by and about Robredo garnered 393,292,110 reactions, comments and shares since 2016. But these posts came mostly from detractors and critics.

"Alam naman natin na all throughout the six years, si VP Leni Robredo ay naging target ng napakatinding atake. Atake sa kanyang pagkatao at sa pulitika niya, sa mga ginagawa niya, which is natural because she is the leader of the opposition. Makikita din natin na nagka epekto ito sa kanyang standing politically," Teehankee said. 

UniTeam Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte greet supporters during a grand rally at the Lima Commercial Estate along the border of Lipa and Malvar, Batangas on April 20, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
UniTeam Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte greet supporters during a grand rally at the Lima Commercial Estate along the border of Lipa and Malvar, Batangas on April 20, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

KINGDOMS OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH

A bigger factor in Marcos' victory, Teehankee said, is his alliance with vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte and the backing of other elite families who wield enormous influence in many parts of the country. 

"Bunga ito ng alliance ng the 'House of Marcos' and the 'House of Duterte,' the kingdom of the north and the kingdom of the south," he said. 

"Ang kalakihang porsyento ng mga boto na nakuha ni Bongbong Marcos ay galing sa mga supporters ni Inday Sara. At yung mga boto kay Inday Sara ay galing sa continuing popularity ni President Duterte," he added. 

Teehankee said Marcos' huge numbers could show that he has a strong mandate from the voting public. The electoral victory could also show that the Filipino people has been kind to the Marcoses. 

"Napakabait ng sambayanang Pilipino sa mga Marcoses. Binigyan sila ng pagkakataon na baguhin ang imahe nila," he said. 

"I hope they respect this mandate."

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