Two of the Philippines’ most powerful political families have joined forces in the May 9 election, as children of two presidents seek the country’s top officials.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the ousted dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, and Sara Duterte, daughter of the current strongman president, Rodrigo Duterte, are running on the same ticket and are the frontrunners in the race for the presidency and vice presidency.
Elder Marcos, who ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, and President Duterte, whose term ends next month, are both known for their abuse of power. Mr. Marcos declared martial law and remained in office until he was ousted by the People Power movement. Accused of committing huge human rights violations and stealing billions, he fled to Hawaii and died there in 1989.
The reverent Mr Duterte, elected in 2016, has waged a bloody war on drugs and imprisoned his critics. Last week, at a campaign rally, he joked that he would go to hell, but would take over after cutting off Satan’s tail and making it into the pot. “Do not be afraid of Satan,” he said. “If there are elections there, we will definitely win.”
The alliance between the Duterte and Marcos families was cemented shortly after Mr Duterte took office and ordered the remnants of the displaced dictator to be relocated to Philippines equivalent of Arlington National Cemetery.
“The Marcos-Duterte axis is likely to continue where the outgoing populist leader stops: to push the beleagured democracy of the Philippines over the cliff,” said Richard Heydarian, a professor of political science at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. “The result is likely to be a ‘hybrid’ regime in which a single coalition of an illiberal elite enjoys full spectrum dominance in elections and the media landscape through proxies and impresario.”
Ms. Duterte would have been a strong candidate to succeed his father as president, but agreed to seek the vice presidency on the ticket with Mr. Marcos. In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately and are limited by the constitution to a six-year term.