What a difference less than two months make. By the time this column is published, the Philippines will have its second Marcos president. It’s a moment that is baffling…that’s the only way to characterize it. At this point, given this strange reality that is our world, the best-case scenario for Yellow-leaning Filipinos is that the anxieties associated with a second Marcos Presidency are overblown. So, let’s take a look at some of the worries and hopes that loom.
Economic inequality: Given the oft- repeated refrain that the D & E voters feel that the Yellowtards have done nothing for them economically in the 30 years they were in power, I think they will ultimately be sorely disappointed with Marcos 2.0. But, first, let me chastise my side. The cagey protectionist ways of the oligarchs during both Aquino administrations and all other administrations in between, are probably the primary culprit for what happened on May 9, 2022. When I visited, I saw the good fortune spread among the same small group of families, the prestigious executive jobs going to the same old last names. It almost seems like there is no real competition there, just a club that requires preapproval. Land reform was weaponized and access to the fruits of the land were, as usual, kept away from the people. Don’t you want to slap them now?
Will Marcos 2.0 do any better? I highly doubt it. In fact, I don’t even think it is in the culture of “their side” to think about spreading access to the engines of wealth to the classes that have never had access to it. I am talking about things like logging concessions, mining rights, other licenses the government can grant. I fully expect these types of things to be reserved for the cronies. I haven’t seen any indication that Marcos the Younger views this part of the world any differently that his father. In fact, I would guess that the fruits of the land will be spread among fewer families rather than the old Manila 400. And so inequality will get worse.
Violence: On a positive note, I continue to marvel at how smooth and non-violent this power overtake has been. Duterte’s drug-related killings aside, the power grabs have been so much more elegant than they were under Marcos the Elder. Take, for instance, the disband of the Lopez media stronghold. Under Marcos the Elder, the station was overtaken by goons with guns. There was nothing subtle about it. This time around, a license simply expired and, with that, the ability of a single family to sway the minds of the masa disappeared. If we can attach any hope to that idea, I do not thing this version of Marcos power will echo the same violence as the first guy.
History Rewrit: It’s my view that BBM plans to clear his father and his family’s name. Of course, there are limits to what he can achieve. The international legal blemishes will not go away. But the three decades of egg splashed on the Marcos name will be wiped clean in the Philippines. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ninoy Aquino International Airport gets renamed and if the holidays commemorating the EDSA revolution and Ninoy’s assassination are deleted. Instead, we’ll have the return of Marcos statues and Imelda’s face etched into the stations of the cross. The curriculum at schools will be revised and the notion that the country overthrew and dictator or suffered under martial law or every went through such a thing will be wiped from future minds.