Two of the Philippines’ most powerful political families have joined forces in the May 9 elections as the children of two presidents seek the country’s top offices.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the ousted dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, and Sara Duterte, daughter of the current strongman president, Rodrigo Duterte, are running on the same ticket and are the front-runners in races for the presidency and vice presidency.
The elder Marcos, who ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, and President Duterte, whose term ends next month, are both known for their abuse of power. Mr. Marcos declared martial law and remained in office until he was ousted by the People Power movement. Accused of committing huge human rights abuses and stealing billions, he fled to Hawaii and died there in 1989.
The irreverent Mr. Duterte, elected in 2016, has led a bloody war on drugs and jailed his critics. Last week, he joked at a campaign rally that he would go to hell but would take over after cutting off Satan’s tail and making it into stew. “Don’t be afraid of Satan,” he said. “If there’s an election there, we’ll surely win.”
The alliance between the Duterte and Marcos families was cemented soon after Mr. Duterte took office and ordered the remains of the ousted dictator to be moved to the Philippines’ equivalent of Arlington National Cemetery.
“The Marcos-Duterte axis will likely pick up where the outgoing populist leader leaves off: nudging the Philippines’ besieged democracy over the cliff,” said Richard Heydarian, a political science professor at Polytechnic University of the Philippines. “The upshot will likely be a ‘hybrid’ regime, where a single coalition of an illiberal elite enjoys full-spectrum dominance in elections and the media landscape via proxies and impresarios.”
Ms. Duterte would have been a strong contender to succeed her father as president, but agreed to seek the vice presidency on the ticket with Mr. Marcos. In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately and are limited by the Constitution to one six-year term.