Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. inaugurated as Philippine president

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MANILA — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Emmanuel Marcos, was sworn in to office Thursday, sealing a family comeback that was decades in the making.

Marcos Jr., 64, won a landslide victory during the May elections. More than 30 million votes were cast for him, making Marcos the first presidential candidate to obtain a majority since the revolution that ousted his father 36 years ago. His election suggests a continued preference for populist leaders among Filipinos — who were governed for the past six years by the tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte, best known internationally for a war on drugs that has left thousands dead.

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Marcos Jr., known as “Bongbong,” takes office with the Philippine economy starting to recover from the pandemic. It is one of the fastest-growing nations in Southeast Asia, and many covid restrictions have been lifted. But inflation remains a threat, and poor infrastructure is an obstacle for growth. The president also has to balance relations between an assertive China, the regional giant, and the United States, a treaty ally.

Washington was represented at the ceremony, held at the capital’s National Museum, by a delegation led by second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

Hundreds of supporters spread out across the grass in the golf course in front of the museum. Sheryl Patalinhog Velez, 25, donned a red gown given to her by her mother, which she customized with green accents to match the Marcos campaign colors. She said it took her a month to make the dress, using recycled material like bottle caps arranged to look like “a sun for Sir BBM,” she said, using Marcos’s nickname. She also wore a makeshift ring, which she said symbolizes a “cute” Imelda, his mother.

She added that she got dolled up in the hopes of being noticed “so they can adopt me or give me work.”

Fears of clashes between supporters and detractors or heavy-handed police actions did not materialize and the protests both for and against Marcos on Thursday took place without violence.

Survivors of the elder Marcos’s autocratic regime — which include an estimated 70,000 who were detained and tens of thousands who were tortured — held a separate ceremony just outside the capital, in Quezon City, during which they pledged to “guard against tyranny.”

“The survivors are a vanishing breed, if not an endangered species, and the time to correct falsehoods and lay bare the truth is now,” said Tina Bawagan, a spokeswoman for the survivors. “Most of us remaining are in the last quarter of our lives. We are appalled at how the Marcoses have attempted to deny that dark and gruesome period of history.”

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At another anti-Marcos demonstration, this time at Plaza Miranda, close to the inauguration site, 200 people gathered to protest. They were temporarily quieted by a flyby of three military jets from the nearby ceremony and then booed.

“There’s no difference between Marcos and Duterte,” the crowd chanted. “They’re both lap dogs,…

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