It Runs in the Family
Listen to Today's Edition
Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, a senator in the Philippines who is now running for the president, recently called on authorities to release Filipino Senator Leila de Lima from jail.
As the Philippine Daily Inquirer explained, de Lima is one of many of current President Rodrigo Duterte’s fierce critics. Two witnesses who had alleged that de Lima was involved in the illegal drug trade retracted their comments. De Lima has been in prison in Quezon City since 2017. She had consistently denied the charges against her.
Pacquiao stood up for de Lima because she has become a symbol of the opposition to Duterte and his legacy. Her and others’ criticisms of the president are well known.
Duterte won votes with his tough-on-crime platform. But Amnesty International and other human rights groups have accused the foul-mouthed, sexist Duterte of promoting extrajudicial killings and unfair trials, repressing political dissent, cracking down on indigenous and labor activists and numerous other violations in the course of his campaign against crime.
Elected in 2016 to a single six-year term, Duterte is now preparing to leave office once voters elect his successor on May 9. But his legacy will remain, in his daughter, Sara Duterte, who polls project will win the vice presidency.
Meanwhile, polls suggest Pacquiao will lose, Reuters reported. Voters are supporting the son of another famous Filipino, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., whose father ruled the second-most populous southeast Asian archipelago nation as a dictator and kleptocrat for two decades until 1986 when a popular revolution threw him out.
Marcos has harkened back to the Philippines’ supposed prosperous “golden age” of the 1980s when his father oversaw a brutal, corrupt government and economy. His campaign oversees “a massive disinformation and propaganda network,” according to Voice of America. For example, his main rival, incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo, has had to argue against allegations that she was an ally of “communist rebels” now identified as terrorist groups, wrote Philstar.com, a local English-language news website.
Such disinformation led the respected news outlet Rappler, whose executive editor Maria Ressa received the Nobel Peace Prize last year, to cover misinformation in the country closely. One of their stories noted how Duterte’s determined undermining of the press didn’t help the Filipino public sift between truth and propaganda.
Robredo, meanwhile, is operating a strong runner-up campaign. She defeated Marcos in the vice presidential race of 2016. In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately, so while she is technically part of Duterte’s administration, she is the anti-Duterte candidate. The young especially have been flocking to her banner, the New York Times reported.
Still, polls project a win for Bongbong, a candidate who “has done little in his 30 years in public life” and says even less about addressing the country’s main problems – a pandemic-battered economy, rising poverty and run-away corruption – but has a clear mission to clear his family name, wrote the Economist.
The lack of an agenda beyond winning is bad for the Philippines, says the British magazine, noting his family’s long and strong association with China.
But the biggest issue might be that those smoldering revolutionary ideals that forced his father to flee the country might alight with a Bongbong victory and with them, resistance to his win that could tear the country apart, sparking court fights, protests and even violence.
Such instability would be a distraction from an increasingly urgent to-do list, which, if ignored, essentially means more people will go hungry.