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With Marcos Jr. set to be next Philippine president, a Hawaiʻi connection is part of the story

Philippines Elections Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte
Aaron Favila/AP
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AP
Presidential candidate, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator, left, raises arms with running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the daughter of the current President, during their last campaign rally known as "Miting De Avance" on Saturday, May 7, 2022 in Paranaque city, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In about six weeks, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will take office as the next president of the Philippines — and a Hawaiʻi connection is part of the story. Vice-presidential running mate and daughter of the outgoing leader, Sara Duterte, also won.

A fiesta to mark the 20th anniversary of Waipahu’s  Filipino Community Center -- better known to many as the Fil-Com
Catherine Cruz
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HPR
A fiesta to mark the 20th anniversary of Waipahu’s Filipino Community Center, also known as the FilCom, on May 14, 2022.

A fiesta to mark the 20th anniversary of Waipahu’s Filipino Community Center, also known as the FilCom, is where Susan was celebrating the Marcos-Duterte ticket. She recently moved to Hawaiʻi.

"Bongbong Marcos is the descendant of my favorite and idol president of the Philippines. I know from the start that they are good. They are intelligent, and they make so many development in the Philippines," she said. "He's not a dictator. He's just like a good and deserving Filipino president.

Across town, a vigil took place Sunday at Ala Moana Beach Park for those who opposed the return of the Marcos family to Malacanang Palace.

Marcos will soon have authority over government agencies that are still trying to recover as much as $10 billion from the time that his father was in office.

The lawsuits involving some of those funds included a case in Hawaiʻi.

In 1995 a Honolulu court found the elder Marcos responsible for human rights abuses including the torture, murder and “disappearances of fellow Filipinos.”

Local attorney Sherry Broder says the legal battle to get the $2 billion award to the plaintiffs has been a long one.

“We’ve spent many years since then litigating in appellate courts in the United States of America — including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Sixth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit, state courts in California, Hawaiʻi, and other places in our effort to collect on the judgment," Broder said.

"We’ve also litigated in the Philippines. The Philippines courts have been very unfriendly, and haven’t been willing to enforce our judgment in the Philippines," she said.

Reuters reports that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his family have defied court orders requiring them to surrender assets, and they remain defendants in at least 40 civil cases related to their wealth.

Also known as Bongbong, the younger Marcos lived on Oʻahu when his parents fled the country seeking refuge in the 1980s.

This interview aired on The Conversation on May 16, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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