MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Thursday praised his dictator father’s rule after being sworn in as the country’s new leader, completing a decades-long effort to restore the clan to the country’s highest office.
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, 64, won last month’s elections by a landslide, securing the biggest victory since his father and namesake was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986.
He succeeds the hugely popular Rodrigo Duterte, who gained international infamy for his deadly drug war and has threatened to kill suspected dealers after he leaves office.
In the last act of reviving the family brand, Marcos Jr took the oath in a public ceremony at the National Museum in Manila in front of hundreds of diplomats, dignitaries and supporters.
With his 92-year-old mother Imelda sitting meters away, Marcos Jr praised the late patriarch’s regime, which critics describe as a dark period of human rights abuses and corruption that left the country impoverished.
“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence… but he got it done,” Marcos Jr said after being sworn into office, claiming his father built more roads and produced more rice than his predecessors.
“So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.”
Ahead of the swearing-in, Duterte received Marcos Jr at the riverside Malacanang presidential palace — which the Marcos family fled into exile 36 years ago.
Duterte, 77, wore a mask and a traditional formal shirt, characteristically unbuttoned at the top and with sleeves rolled up, for the meeting with Marcos Jr, who he once described as “weak”.
The ceremony comes days after the Supreme Court dismissed final attempts to have Marcos Jr disqualified from the election and prevent him taking office.
As rising prices squeeze an economy already ravaged by Covid-19, Marcos Jr has made tackling inflation, boosting growth and ramping up food production his priorities.
He has taken the rare step of appointing himself agriculture secretary to lead the overhaul of the problem-plagued sector.
Marcos Jr has also pledged to defend the Philippines’ rights to the disputed South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely.
He promised Thursday that “we will go very far under my watch” — but has offered scant detail on how he will achieve his goals and few hints about his leadership style after largely shunning media interviews.