The President-elect of the Philippines is in Australia just days after winning last week’s election.
Most important points:
The son of Ferdinand Marcos Jr is enrolled at the University of Melbourne. The Australian government confirmed the visit. Protesters gathered outside the property where Mr. Marcos is staying
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr quietly flew into Australia yesterday.
News of his visit quickly spread to the Filipino community in Melbourne. On Tuesday, a small group gathered to protest outside the serviced apartment where he resides in the city.
Sources in the Philippine community said they believed the new president was in Australia to help his youngest son settle into the University of Melbourne, where he is enrolled to study.
Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez confirmed the visit during a media briefing in Manila.
“It’s more of a private trip…for the much-needed rest and vacation of President-elect Bongbong,” Rodriguez told Reuters, adding that he would return to Manila on Thursday.
Marcos’ overwhelming victory has sparked controversy, partly because of the infamous track record of his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, who ruled the country for over two decades.
The regime was notoriously corrupt, siphoning billions of dollars from the state coffers.
Human rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of Filipinos were detained and tortured under repeated repression during his rule.
One protester, Philippines-born Melba Marginson, said she had haunting memories of being a young dissident in the Southeast Asian country under Ferdinand Marcos.
“I am a survivor of martial law. I was there, and many of my friends were killed and tortured,” she said.
“There are many of us here in Australia. So it’s devastating to us that [we lost] the bloom of our years.
“We fought against the regime… and now we see the continuation of the networks of these dictators.”
Members of Melbourne’s Philippine community protested outside Bongbong Marcos’ residence. (ABC News)
Another protester, Moira Neglina, feared the new government would crack down on academics and teachers who told the truth about the Marcos family’s legacy.
“It is very worrying for the future of democracy in the Philippines. It is very worrying for the ability of people who want to be dissidents and speak out,” she said.
“And it is very worrying for those who have suffered under martial law and want the truth to come out.”
Protesters also supported a campaign in the Philippines to force the younger Marcos to pay a massive tax bill of more than 4 billion dollars allegedly owed on his late father’s estate.
Those campaigns, however, have not tarnished the president-elect’s popularity in the Philippines, where he seems on track to win the presidency and dominate both Houses of Congress thanks to the victories of his political allies.
Several of his relatives will also hold political posts, reinforcing the political dynasty’s renewed dominance in the country.