But critics say his rise to power was the culmination of a decades-long effort to rebrand the Marcos family’s name and image, most recently via a supercharged social media campaign.
Marcos Jr., 64, is the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., whose 21-year kleptocratic rule from 1965 to 1986 was marked by human rights abuses, widespread corruption and looting of the state treasury.
The former senator and congressman took his oath of office at the National Museum of Fine Arts in the capital Manila before Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.
In his inaugural address, Marcos Jr. that his “call to unity” resonated with the people to “deliver the largest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy.”
“This is a historic moment for all of us,” he said. “You have chosen me to be your servant, to facilitate change for the benefit of all. I fully understand the gravity of the responsibility you place on my shoulders. I don’t take it lightly, but I’m up to the task.’
Marcos Jr. thanked his mother, 92-year-old former first lady Imelda Marcos, who attended the ceremony. He also praised his father, the late dictator, in his speech.
“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence. In a country of people with the greatest potential to achieve, and yet they were poor. But he made it happen. Sometimes with the necessary support, sometimes without. It will be. It’s with his son – you won’t get an apology from me,” he said.
Marcos Jr. spoke of healing divisions in the country, promising to grow the economy, recover from the pandemic and lead a more united, prosperous country.
“I’m not here to talk about the past, I’m here to tell you about our future. A future of sufficiency, even many, of readily available ways and resources to get what needs to be done,” he said . “I’ll get it done.”
Activist groups planned to protest the inauguration in Manila and called for responsibility for alleged crimes committed under the Marcos Sr. dictatorship, CNN Philippines reported.
The Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG), tasked with recovering the family’s ill-gotten wealth, estimates that approximately $10 billion has been stolen from the Philippine people.
The Marcos family has repeatedly denied abuses under martial law and used state funds for personal use. Campaigners say the Marcoses have never been held fully accountable and victims of martial law are still fighting for justice.
Some fear that Marcos Jr. Duterte’s path will continue and that misinformation will further obscure the truth, making it harder to hold those in power accountable.
Despite his human rights record and the Covid-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the hunger crisis in the country, Duterte remained hugely popular domestically.
Supporters expect Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio to continue Duterte’s policy on infrastructure and its controversial “war on drugs.”
CNN’s Mayumi Maruyama and Alice Barnard contributed.