Philippines’ Marcos Jnr will take presidential oath at venue linked to father’s brutal legacy

On Thursday noon, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will take his presidential oath on the steps of the Philippines’ former legislature, where his late father-president was once confronted with a black papier-mâché coffin and a crocodile by student activists. His inauguration as the nation’s 17th president will be “very solemn and simple,” event organizers said. “We’re not going to deviate from tradition,” Marcos Jnr said. Historian Ambeth Ocampo theorized that the venue – the National Museum of Fine Arts building that used to house the Philippine Congress until Marcos Snr closed it in 1972 – was chosen for its “look”. Its American Colonial-style columns mimic the backdrop for the inaugurations of US Presidents who take their oaths on the steps of the Capitol. Whoever picked the venue didn’t know Philippine history, Ocampo, a former head of the National Historical Commission, said Sunday. First, Ocampo said, not only did all three presidents who took the oath there — Manuel Quezon, Jose Laurel, and Manuel Roxas — not complete their terms, two of them — Quezon and Roxas — died while in office. Second, “that’s where the storm started in the first quarter,” Ocampo said, referring to the series of increasingly violent student protests following the 1969 election, in which Marcos Snr was accused of cheating to win a second term. What does a Marcos Jnr presidency mean for ASEAN and democracy in the region? Playwright Bonifacio Ilagan, 70, intends to spend his inauguration day protesting Marcos Jnr.’s assumption of the presidency, just as he protested his father 52 years ago when Marcos Snr. on January 26, 1970 delivered his State of the Union address in the same building. He said Monday, “I don’t know if Marcos Jnr realizes that the venue was a historic site for student riots and radicalization.” Ilagan, who was imprisoned and tortured during Marcos Snr’s dictatorship, is the organizer of the campaign against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA). Authorities have Ilagan and his…

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