A Marcos-Duterte series

"Whichever way the two will decide, their political fortunes will be enmeshed with those of their fathers."


Among the hodgepodge of possible candidates for the top elective posts in the 2022 national elections, two prominent personalities often come out.

The first, is a frontrunner, at least insofar as poll surveys are concerned, and daughter of the incumbent president, while the other is the son of a former dictator. I’m referring, of course, to presidential daughter Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio and Bongbong Marcos. They are not exactly neophytes in the rough and tumble world of politics; on the contrary, both are traditional politicians or trapos.

While Inday Sara has yet to occupy a national elective post, she has served either as mayor or vice mayor of Davao City for a few terms. The Dutertes are a fixture in Davao local politics, with nearly four decades of uncontested rule. Sara, as her father said so himself, is fiercely independent-minded, with a “love-hate relationship” with her father. President Duterte previously announced that he wanted his daughter to succeed him. In the run up to the filing of candidacy this coming October, she has yet to make up her mind whether or not to gun for the presidency. But then again, her father played possum himself in 2016 but decided to throw his hat into the presidential arena at the last minute.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is a former governor of Ilocos Norte for several terms, a one-term senator of the Republic, and the only son of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. He ran for vice-president in the 2016 national elections but lost to Vice President Leni Robredo.  During his vice presidential run, he was hounded by attacks over his father’s 20-year dictatorial reign plagued by massive corruption and human rights abuses. Bongbong tried to deflect these accusations by saying that as a son, he is not to be held into account for the sins of his father.  His critics counter argue he is not the guiltless son he portrays himself to be. At the very least, he, together with his family, should have apologized to the victims of martial law and stop peddling lies to cover up the abuses of his father’s iron rule. 

As Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said, Imee and Bongbong Marcos turned 18 in 1973 and 1975, respectively, old enough to have witnessed the atrocities committed during the “conjugal dictatorship” of their parents. Unlike Sara Duterte-Carpio, Bongbong makes no bones about running for the highest post in the coming 2022 national polls. 

Whether there will be a Duterte-Marcos team up or whether either of them will choose another runningmate, we will see in the coming days.  But one thing is certain, whichever way the two will decide, their political fortunes will be enmeshed with those of their fathers. Bongbong and Sara will be hard pressed to shake off the long shadow of their fathers. Inevitably both children’s job performance will be measured against their respective fathers’ accomplishments and/or non-accomplishments. Like it or not, the parents always exert some moral sway and influence on their children, the son or daughter in this case.

In this series, we will try to juxtapose, compare and contrast, draw parallels between the Marcos and the Duterte administrations, focusing on selected facets of governance, like the economy, corruption, human rights, foreign policy, and the like. Admittedly, the Duterte administration, now in its waning days with a few months to go before Duterte steps down as president by constitutional dicta, is still a work in progress while the Marcos years is now part of history; hence, one can argue that making comparisons or generalizations is premature. Yet at this stage of the Duterte government, one can already determine its policy trajectories, general approaches and strategies that have been adapted in response to certain governance issues.

But why a series on Duterte and Marcos?

First, the fact that the son and daughter of the two presidents are possible candidates for the top posts in the coming 2022 national elections and may well be our future leaders, it is but fitting that we revisit the past dispensation and compare it with the present and how their rule impacted the nation. If elected, will the children follow in the footsteps of their fathers or will they chart a different course; put in another way, will it be a case of the apple falling not far from the tree or to each his/her own?

Second, President Duterte in many of his statements has identified himself with the strongman. Differences in leadership styles aside, Duterte idolizes the former dictator and wants to emulate him in many respects. In fact, Duterte is often criticized for his dictatorial proclivities reminiscent of the strongman. One of the first acts of Duterte as president was to confer a hero’s burial to the late dictator, a move opposed by many but was finally affirmed by the high tribunal. In fact, President Duterte once lamented that graft and illicit drugs are so entrenched in the Philippines that if he were not around, it would be better off run by a dictator such as Ferdinand Marcos.

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Topics: Tony La Viña , 2022 national elections , Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio , Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
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