Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. was sworn in as president of the Philippines on Thursday, completing a return to power for one of the world's most infamous family dynasties. Photo by Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE
June 29 (UPI) -- Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the dictator who was driven into exile by a popular revolt in 1986, completed his family's stunning return to power when he was sworn in on Thursday as the 17th president of the Philippines.
The 64-year-old politician, widely known as "Bongbong," was elected last month in the largest landslide victory in the country's modern electoral history, winning nearly 59% of the popular vote. His closest challenger, outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo, trailed with just 28%.
"You, the people have spoken and it is resounding," Marcos said at his inauguration ceremony Thursday, which was held at the National Museum in Manila in front of officials, supporters and dignitaries including U.S. second gentleman Douglas Emhoff.
Marcos Jr. has never apologized or admitted to any wrongdoing from the two decades of rule that saw his family plunder up to $10 billion. Instead, he ran on a campaign slogan of "together we will rise again" and praised his dictator father as a "political genius."
With his 92-year-old mother Imelda sitting nearby, Bongbong once again celebrated his father's legacy during his address Thursday. Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989.
"I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence in a land filled with people with the greatest potential for achievement, and yet they were poor. But he got it done," Marcos Jr. said after taking the oath of office.
"So it will be with his son. You will get no excuses from me."
Marcos Jr. replaces outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, the strongman leader whose six-year term was marked by a bloody war on drugs that left thousands dead and led to an investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Duterte remains hugely popular in the Philippines and the Marcos camp benefited by forging a political alliance with his daughter, Sara, who was sworn in Thursday as vice president.
Marcos Jr. heaped praise on his father and Duterte as the two greatest leaders in the history of the Philippines.
"My father built more and better roads. Produced more rice than all administrations before his," Marcos Jr. said. "President Rodrigo Roa Duterte built more and better than all the succeeding administrations succeeding my father's."
During his campaign, Marcos Jr. vowed to turn around an economy that was badly hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic and is facing soaring inflation.
"We are presently drawing up a comprehensive all-inclusive plan for economic transformation," he said, but remained short on specifics, as was the case during his campaign.
Marcos Jr. highlighted the need to ramp up food production in his address, after announcing last week that he would be taking on the role of secretary of agriculture in addition to his presidential duties.
The inauguration was met with protests in Manila from groups including human rights activists and survivors of the brutal martial law period under Ferdinand Marcos Sr., local media reported.