Opinion – Historic Amnesia, Digital Authoritarianism and the Presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the dictator ousted in 1986, secured the 2022 Philippines presidential vote in a landslide. For the regime’s critics this represents additional retrogression for a nation steeped in a malodorous rightist populism. Marcos succeeds the tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte, finest recognized for his struggle on medicine that left 1000’s of useless. Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is vp in a marketing campaign which represented a handy political marriage of the nation’s two strongest dynasties. The election led many observers to consider that within the Philippines, nostalgia for strongmen trumps democracy.
Marcos’s journey reveals how social media alters notion in a highly online country. The Philippines is a hive of disinformation, remembering how Duterte first received with the assistance of troll farms in 2016. As president, Marcos governs an archipelago of about 110 million, with a fifth beneath the poverty line. He continues the drug struggle, and shields the outgoing Duterte from the Worldwide Felony Courtroom
In campaigning, Marcos skipped election debates and interviews with unbiased media, as an alternative surrounding himself with proxy social media personalities and vloggers. He was governor of Ilocos Norte within the Nineteen Eighties (succeeding his aunt), earlier than the overthrow of his father in 1986. Marcos can be anticipated to proceed Duterte’s pleasant stance towards China, and has proven ambivalence to the US in regards to the South China Sea, which China has closely militarized. There are additionally long-standing ties with the US, together with between their militaries, which Marcos could be unwise to denigrate.
For Marco Garrido, Marcos’s landslide win factors to the success of his social media marketing campaign but additionally Filipinos’ “serial disappointment” in democratic rule over the previous three many years:
The religion that they had in liberal democracy has dried up … they usually’ve developed this style for intolerant rule over the course of the Duterte administration … This nostalgia for the Marcos period wouldn’t make sense unless you put it in the context of 36 years of disappointment.
The burden of historical past didn’t sufficiently weaken Marcos’ declare to the presidency. Quite the opposite, the historic previous of his father’s regime has been celebrated as a badge of satisfaction. On this political stupor, dictators are nostalgically remembered as robust leaders, historic information are purposely manipulated, and the previous is perceived to be superb when in comparison with the current. President Rodrigo Duterte has contributed to the nation’s misremembering of its previous. Duterte allowed the previous dictator’s household a long-standing demand: burial of Ferdinand Marcos within the Nationwide Heroes’ Cemetery. Symbolically, this helped shroud the elder Marcos with the aura of a presidency which was in actuality a brutal dictatorship.
Historic amnesia is not only about willful disinformation by political partisans. In lots of democracies, folks will revolt when present governments fail to enhance the lives of the center and dealing lessons. Marcos Jr inherits a imaginative and prescient of progress by means of self-discipline as a result of his father is now being remembered as a strong strongman, and since he enlisted Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the president and mayor of Davao, as his running-mate. Maria Ressa has termed this “digital authoritarianism.” If the general public see this digital fabrication usually sufficient on state media, many will consider it.
The deliberate distortion of historical past festers in a demographic construction through which about 50 per cent of the nation’s voters by no means skilled the violence of the Marcos dictatorship. This group is particularly weak to social media distortion. However the issue is deeper than demography. Marcos Jr. has chosen economists and technocrats to his cupboard, which bodes effectively for financial and public well being outcomes. Because the financial system rebounds from a disastrous few years, poverty and revenue inequality stay burdensome. The Philippine financial system’s dependence on remittances from abroad overseas staff, dwindling throughout the pandemic, additionally complicates restoration.
Extra worrisome is that Marcos Jr. is filling different key cupboard posts with patronages for oligarchs who perpetuated monopolistic practices, and with people underneath prison investigation. He has, for example, named vp Sara Duterte-Carpaio Secretary of Schooling though she has no related credentials. He has positioned Conrado Estrella III for agrarian reform, regardless of being linked to a corruption rip-off. And he has made Manuel Bonoan, a part of the San Miguel Company, secretary of the Division of Public Works.
A Marcos presidency is undoubtedly, within the phrases of Joshua Kurlantzik, “dangerous information for Philippines democracy”. The second Marcos administration appears to be like prone to additional undermine democratic values and establishments within the Philippines. The power, and success, of the Marcos marketing campaign demonstrates that historic amnesia should be challenged if democracy is to outlive. It’s crucial that, by means of supporting the NGO neighborhood within the Philippines and elsewhere, worldwide sponsors problem to twin-evils of historic amnesia and digital authoritarianism.
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