Name? Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Westphalian identity? Filipino
Why is he in the news? Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was just inaugurated as president of the Philippines, ending Rodrigo Duterte’s 6-year term. To keep it in the family, Duterte’s daughter was elected vice president to rule alongside Marcos Jr. As the son of a former dictator of a nation whose history has been suppressed to cause partial amnesia, his win is controversial.
Why do we care? We said in February, this new leadership may not bring anything new to the Philippines, despite its claims. Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio are children of two of the most notorious political dynasties in Philippines history, to expand state powers, political impunity, and continue a deadly drug war. The inauguration was surrounded by protests in a heavily guarded museum who insist that this is a return to authoritarian rule under martial law.
Why should you care? The Philippines faces sharp confrontations with Beijing in the South China Sea due to territorial disputes. Duterte’s pragmatic approach, which sought to appease China, was not successful. Marcos Jr., in efforts to revitalise national pride and regional influence, promised to take a more confrontational stance vis-a-vis China through ASEAN. You should care 6/10.
Who else cares? US President Joe Biden was the first foreign leader to congratulate Marcos Jr. on his win. Tensions in the South China Sea are Biden’s opportunity for the US to influence and aid smaller nations to confront China in their own backyard. Hoping that Marcos Jr. will pivot away from China into the US’ arms.
Any further comments? Yes, the leader of the free world congratulated a brutal dictator’s son; but after all, like Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said, “[n]o nation has a perfect track record on human rights” or as Franklin Roosevelt put it in more general terms, “[h]e may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch”.