LA Times

In the Philippines, the Marcos name is back, even as memories of the dictator have faded

In the Philippines, the Marcos name is back in vogue.

For two decades, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos pilfered billions from the country’s public coffers; his government reportedly tortured opponents by shocking them with live wires and burning them with irons. After his ouster in 1986, his legacy was so toxic that then-President Corazon Aquino established an office— the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) — to “restore the institution’s integrity and credibility,” according to its website.

Yet memories of the dictatorship’s brutality have begun to fade, even as the country’s next presidential elections, scheduled for May 9, have brought his name back into the spotlight. Marcos’ son Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known by his nickname “Bongbong,” is leading opinion polls in the vice presidential race. (In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately.)

Ronald Chua, a PCGG commissioner, ascribed Marcos Jr.’s popularity to young Filipinos who did not experience life under his father’s rule.

“To be honest, millennials, they don’t have any idea of what happened in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “What they know is only what they read in the books, and it’s just not enough information — what you can read in the textbooks now is, I would say, just 1% of what happened during the time.”

How a Marcos Jr. vice presidency would coexist with the commission remains an open question. The organization is not partisan, Chua said, but if Marcos is elected, “it will be harder for the office to perform its function.”

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