Ferdinand Marcos Jr was Wednesday proclaimed the next Philippine president after a landslide win in elections that rights groups and religious leaders fear could weaken the corruption-prone country’s fragile democracy.
Marcos, who formally takes office next month, secured more than 31.6 million votes, or 58.8 percent of the total, according to a final tally released by parliament.
He was the first presidential candidate to win an outright majority since his dictator father, who presided over widespread graft and human rights abuses, was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986.
In the Philippines, the winner only has to get more votes than anyone else.
“I hereby proclaim Ferdinand Bongbong Romualdez Marcos Jr as the duly elected president of the Republic of the Philippines,” House of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said, after legislators approved a report declaring Marcos the winner.
Marcos’s victory followed relentless online whitewashing of his family’s past, and alliances with rival political dynasties who have the means to influence voters in their regions.
His main rival Leni Robredo finished well behind in second place with just over 15 million votes.
A joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate formally ratified the results and proclaimed Marcos the Philippines’ 17th president. He will be inaugurated on June 30.
His running mate Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, was also proclaimed the winner of the vice presidential race.
Wearing a traditional formal shirt, Marcos greeted Sara Duterte with a hug as she arrived at a holding room inside the parliament building.
Former first lady Imelda Marcos, 92, who has been the driving force behind the family’s comeback from exile to the peak of power, was pushed in a wheelchair into the chamber where she held a seat as recently as 2019.
Joining her was the new first lady, Louise Araneta-Marcos.
Hours earlier and several kilometres away, hundreds of riot police and protesters opposing the proclamations clashed outside the Commission on Human Rights.
Water cannon was sprayed on the crowd of activists. Leftist groups reported at least 10 people wounded.
“Is the violent dispersal today a prelude of things to come under a Marcos-Duterte administration — where exercising our basic rights and freedoms are met with brazen State violence?” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan human rights group, asked in a statement.
Marcos has so far given few clues about how he will govern the poverty-plagued country of 110 million people.
On the campaign trail he avoided difficult questions by shunning televised debates with rivals and largely avoiding media interviews.
Marcos’s admiration for his father, whose regime he has portrayed as a golden era for the Philippines, has raised fears among human rights groups that he may seek to rule like him.