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Biden calls to congratulate the presumptive Philippine president

MANILA — US President Joe Biden called Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday to congratulate him on his apparent landslide victory in the Philippine presidential election, Manila’s ambassador to Washington said.

Biden is among the first world leaders to recognize the election victory of Marcos Jr., the ousted dictator’s eponymous son, whose candidacy alarmed human rights activists and pro-democracy groups.

“President Biden told him Washington looks forward to working with him and cited the shared history of the treaty’s longtime allies,” Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez told The Associated Press, adding that the two spoke for more than 10 minutes .

Marcos Jr. had more than 31 million votes in the unofficial count of Monday’s election in what is expected to be the strongest mandate for a Philippine president in decades. His running mate Sara Duterte also appeared to have won by a landslide victory.

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Marcos Jr. cited Manila-Washington’s longstanding robust relationship and said his administration will work to build on it further. He invited Biden to attend his inauguration on June 30, but the US leader said he has pressing concerns that may prompt him to remain in the US, but he will send a high-level American delegation, Romualdez said by phone.

Marcos Jr.’s declared victory on Wednesday, who said his electoral triumph was a boost for democracy and vowed to look for common ground across the political divide, his spokesman Vic Rodriguez said.

“To the world, don’t judge me by my ancestors, judge me by my actions,” Rodriguez quoted Marcos Jr. as saying.

The election result was a stunning reversal of the army-backed but largely peaceful “people power” uprising that ousted Marcos’ father in 1986 – a democratic triumph in Southeast Asia where authoritarian regimes thrive.

Marcos Jr., 64, campaigned on a vague issue of national unity while avoiding fleeting subjects in an effort that left-wing groups and survivors of the elder Marcos’ dictatorship likened to the whitewashing of his father’s crimes. On Tuesday, he appeared overcome with emotion as he visited his father’s grave – which was moved to the National Heroes’ Cemetery under current President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Several of Marcos Jr.’s key contenders have conceded defeat, though his closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, a human rights lawyer who has taken office promising much-needed reforms, has only acknowledged his massive lead. The US State Department said the election and subsequent vote count followed international standards without major incidents.

The tabular results have yet to be confirmed by Congress. Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte would then begin their only six-year term, leading a Southeast Asian nation ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, wealth inequality, Muslim and Communist uprisings, and political divisions fueled only by the tumultuous presidencies of theirs fathers

Earlier, China congratulated the “leading candidates” and the Philippines for conducting the elections smoothly and said it would work with Manila to “remain committed to good neighborliness and friendship” for the benefit of the people of both nations.

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Marcos Jr. has said he wants to foster closer ties with China, though Beijing showed no willingness during Duterte’s outgoing presidency to compromise on their conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea and military, fishing and other operations in those waters.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/05/12/biden-calls-to-congratulate-presumptive-philippine-president/ Biden calls to congratulate the presumptive Philippine president

Justin Scacco

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