| 7 February 2023, Tuesday |

Philippines’ presidential hopefuls tout post-pandemic recovery plans

In an interview with the country’s major broadcaster on Saturday, four of the Philippines’ presidential contenders put out proposals to address the country’s most pressing challenges, but the absence of early favorite Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was striking.

Marcos, the obvious favorite in the May 9 presidential election, declined to take part, claiming that the host was prejudiced against him, an allegation GMA Network Inc strenuously refuted.

The three-hour-long pre-recorded interviews sparked outrage on social media. Thousands of people on Twitter used the hashtag marcosduwag (marcoscoward) to criticize Marcos while applauding other candidates and the presenter.

Marcos, 64, the only son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr, has stated that he will spread his message through various shows, venues, and forums.

Political commentators applaud Marcos’ aggressive social media presence for his good poll performance, but others speculate that it may not be enough.

“Should the Marcos camp continue to avoid these types of national gatherings, it is plausible, if not quite likely, that…the second-choice candidates can pick up some numbers,” said Richard Heydarian, a political novelist, pundit, and professor.

Retired boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Vice President and opposition candidate Leni Robredo, Manila city mayor Francisco Domingo, and former police chief Panfilo Lacson all presented their plans for post-pandemic economic recovery, including job creation, improved health care, and anti-corruption measures.

What we need is a clean administration that is free of corruption and has plans to provide employment and homes,” Pacquiao added.

In May, the Philippines, a country of over 110 million people, will choose a successor to President Rodrigo Duterte, who is not eligible for re-election.

From dealing with the drugs problem to resolving a maritime conflict with Beijing, all of the contenders attempted to distinguish their ideas from those of Duterte.

All four indicated they would oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty or the legalization of same-sex marriage, but they disagreed on divorce, which is a sensitive topic in Asia’s most Catholic country.

Platforms in the Philippines are dominated by personality politics.

Twitter has banned hundreds of accounts that were supporting Marcos, alleging spam and manipulation rules violations.

  • Reuters