Marcos Jr. administration

‘Talk about priorities’: How social media users reacted to Marcos’ first 100 days

Russell Ku, Vixey Lema
‘Talk about priorities’: How social media users reacted to Marcos’ first 100 days
From rising inflation, natural disasters, to a Formula 1 trip – Filipinos online questioned the agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his first 100 days in office

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. prevailed in a divisive election on May 9 with more than 31 million votes, with those who didn’t vote for him expressing dread about the future under another Marcos.

In his inaugural speech, he promised to build the country back from the pandemic. However, actions speak louder than words, as Marcos and his allies drew flak on social media for their response to various issues after he stepped into office.

Here’s how netizens reacted to Marcos’ first 100 days as president.

July 2022

Imelda Marcos’ “93th” birthday. Marcos had barely warmed the presidential seat on his second day, but social media users already had a lot to say about the tribute that his mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, got on her 93rd birthday. Some poked fun at her “93th birthday” billboard in EDSA, which filmmaker Lauren Greenfield called out for using an image whose copyright belonged to her.

Others were furious over the party held for the former first lady in Malacañang. Netizens said there was lack of transparency from the Palace over initial reports from the event. 

Meanwhile, Marcos supporters celebrated Imelda’s birthday as a vindication for the former first lady and hailed her as the “epitome of a Filipina beauty.”

“Not that high.” While there was partying in Malacañang, ordinary Filipinos were feeling the effects of the rise in prices of basic goods as the inflation rate jumped to 6.1% in June, the highest level since November 2018. As of September, it continues to rise to 6.9%

Filipinos criticized Marcos’ disbelief in the June figures. 

Others shared how their daily purchases were affected by the rising prices. (READ: Groups stage #BentePesosChallenge to call out inflation ahead of SONA 2022

Ateneo shooting. A day before Marcos’ first State of the Nation Address on June 25, graduating students from Ateneo Law School witnessed a horrific shooting that killed three people before their commencement program on campus.

Social media users were saddened by the incident, especially with the death of security guard Jeneven Bandiala, even opening donation drives to help his family. 

Others were outraged over the way some Filipinos were defending the actions of the suspect, Chao Tiao Yumol, saying they “enable a culture of impunity.” (READ: In aftermath of Ateneo shooting, sympathizers defend gunman online)

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State of the Nation Address. Filipinos were tuned in to Marcos’ first State of the Nation Address, expecting him to discuss his economic plan. However, Filipinos saw that the biggest news from his speech was the possible return of the Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Other netizens said that they found Marcos’ speech sounded like a “technical paper prepared by [his] economic team,” and raised issues that he did not mention in his address. (READ: Marcos’ first SONA tops Twitter trends as Filipinos online share varying views)

Marcos supporters were impressed by his speech and called him a “genius” over his legislative and economic agenda. They also were inspired by his final words during the SONA.

“Iba takbo ng brain cells ni Teves.” The SONA also coincided with the opening of the 19th Congress, with House and Senate lawmakers filing their first bills in the days following Marcos’ speech. 

Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo Teves drew the ire of Filipinos due to his bill seeking to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the late Ferdinand Marcos and a measure that seeks to declare ghosting as an “emotional offense.”

Northern Luzon earthquake. Disaster struck for the first time during the Marcos administration as a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Northern Luzon, a region that played a vital role in Marcos’ election victory. 

Social media users were scared and worried about the scenario as it reminded them of the 1990 Luzon earthquake. They feared a strong earthquake could possibly hit Metro Manila. A user urged the government to prioritize disaster response. 

Marcos supporters sarcastically asked where former vice president Leni Robredo’s Angat Buhay nongovernmental organization was in the aftermath of the earthquake. Robredo’s supporters pushed back, saying that the government should be the first to respond in any disaster.

Marcos supporters responded to the backlash by emphasizing that the President was fast in his disaster response and flew to Abra following the earthquake. 

“Kingdom of the Marcoses.” Filipinos also reacted strongly to the election of Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos, a first-time lawmaker, as House Senior Deputy Majority Leader. 

Social media users said that the move was a “big day for nepotism.” 

“Nauna kaysa DOH Secretary.” Almost a week after the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency, the Philippines confirmed its first case of the virus.

The news left netizens outraged about the lack of preparation by the Marcos administration, especially as the President had yet to appoint a health secretary. As of Thursday, October 6, Department of Health official Maria Rosario Vergeire remains the agency’s officer-in-charge. 

August 2022

“History is tsismis.” Filipinos started the month of August with the release of the controversial movie Maid in Malacañang on August 3. 

The film immediately drew controversy before it was shown in theaters due to actress Ella Cruz’s comments that equated history to gossip. Social media users said the comment invalidated the experiences and work of Martial Law survivors and historians. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Is history like tsismis?)

There was more backlash on social media for the film after its trailer showed a depiction of the Carmelite nuns playing mahjong

Critics of Maid in Malacañang encouraged Filipinos online to watch the award-winning Martial Law film Katips, which was released on the same day. 

As far as Marcos’ supporters were concerned, they thought Maid would “kick off the return of Philippine cinema” as moviegoers lined up for the film. 

Overpriced laptops. Meanwhile, Filipinos online also slammed the Department of Education (DepEd) after the Commission on Audit flagged the agency for P2.4 billion worth of “pricey” and “outdated” laptops for teachers.

The laptops were priced at P58,300 with Intel Celeron processors, among the cheapest in the market. Social media users made a comparison of the purchased laptop and a Macbook Air with the M1 chip, saying that the “teachers deserve better.” 

Walden Bello’s arrest. Former vice presidential candidate Walden Bello was arrested for cyber libel charges filed by Jefry Tupas, Vice President Sara Duterte’s former information officer. 

The move was met with swift condemnation online, saying it was a “needless spectacle to show…power” by silencing critical voices.

“Are we now under Martial Law?” Netizens took a stand against “censorship” after the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino banned books that allegedly contained “anti-government” text from schools and public libraries. Ironically, these books were KWF’s own publications. 

Others were encouraged to read the books listed due to the ban. 

Sugar importation fiasco. Social media users said they had seen “better communication” from student councils than the government after an investigation into the botched resolution that would have allowed the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar supposedly without the approval of Marcos.

One user went viral for a simple explainer of what happened, showing that former executive secretary Vic Rodriguez did not respond to messages from sugar officials on the resolution. 

Return of face-to-face classes. Even after two years of distance learning, netizens were concerned by the problems from the reopening of face-to-face classes, especially with students having to learn despite flooding and a shortage of armchairs.

Filipinos online also criticized the DepEd’s plan to ban extracurricular activities to address learning gaps caused by the pandemic. They said these activities were essential in shaping students’ interests and building life and career skills. 

Chaotic distribution. The Department of Social Welfare and Development came under fire after scenes of people flocking to DSWD offices to get educational assistance.

Social media users criticized DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo for treating the distribution like his own radio show, saying it was “rushed” and meant to “amplify [his] image.”

Sara’s proposed 2023 budget. Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte drew the ire of netizens over the proposed allocation for her department in the 2023 National Expenditure Program. 

Some criticized the budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP), which is three times higher than the funds given to former vice president Leni Robredo. 

The confidential funds included under the OVP and DepEd budgets worth P500 million and P150 million, respectively, also drew the ire of Filipinos. The latter came at the cost of other programs, such as the DepEd’s Special Education Program (SPED). 

Others also slammed Duterte’s request for an additional P100 billion for the DepEd, saying she had not presented an agenda to show how she would solve the learning crisis in the country.

As of Wednesday, October 5, the House realigned P10.581 billion in the proposed P5.268-trillion budget for 2023 to the DepEd. It is for the construction of classrooms and the restoration of SPED. 

September 2022

Weakening peso. On September 6, the Philippine peso reached the P57 level against the US dollar, its weakest ever in history at the time. The local currency has since reached an all-time low of P59 on October 3.

Not a lot of Filipinos might understand its effects on their own lives, as demonstrated by a viral video on ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime. (WATCH: Mahinang piso: Biyaya o pinsala sa OFW?)

https://twitter.com/marawheresclara/status/1576196133713743872

One user said that this highlighted the importance of explaining economic concepts to ordinary Filipinos. 

ALLTV Interview. Former Senate president Manuel Villar’s newly-launched network, ALLTV, aired an exclusive interview hosted by Toni Gonzaga featuring President Marcos on September 13, around a week before the 50th anniversary of Martial Law.

Toni Gonzaga had been receiving flak since she formally endorsed Marcos in the May 2022 elections, and netizens continued to express their frustration following the release of the said interview. 

A netizen even called her the “Mocha Uson” of the Marcos administration. 

But Marcos supporters were pleased with the interview, saying they “admire [Marcos’] grasp of the country and its problems.”

They were also impressed by Toni Gonzaga’s “excellent” hosting skills, which made the interview “exciting and interesting.”

Optional wearing of face masks outdoors. Without a DOH secretary, Marcos signed Executive Order No. 3, allowing optional wearing of face masks outdoors on September 12. Filipinos said that the move was “too early and too risky” and that they would choose to keep their masks on.

Helicopter parent. Vice President Sara Duterte also made headlines as she thanked Marcos for allowing her to use a helicopter to be able to reach home before her children’s bedtime. 

This did not sit well with many Filipinos, considering how the public faces day-to-day struggles with the accessibility and convenience of public transportation

Vic Rodriguez resignation. Not even 100 days in office and the Marcos administration already recorded its first resignation. Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson during the May 2022 elections, resigned from his post as executive secretary.

Social media users said the announcement was a “challenge to [Marcos’] political resolve] after Rodriguez said that he would serve as “Presidential Chief of Staff” next. The move was rejected by the President’s chief legal counsel, Juan Ponce Enrile, and the new executive secretary, Lucas Bersamin.

UN General Assembly. On the day of the 50th anniversary of Martial Law, Marcos delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly. The President talked about economic recovery, food security, agricultural productivity, and climate change

However, some netizens were dismayed after hearing the President’s speech. They believed it did not reflect the way he leads the country. 

In addition, even US President Joe Biden made noise for falling for pro-Marcos fake news. Biden said he was “impressed” with the work that Marcos “did on windmills.” 

The claim that Marcos led the building of the Bangui Wind Farm in Ilocos Norte has been debunked several times. 

Speaking of fake news, Marcos supporters took the opportunity to use the US visit to attack veteran journalist and Rappler’s editor-at-large Marites Vitug for her Sui Generis newsletter, “Why Bongbong Marcos can’t go to the US.”

Supporters forgot to note that Vitug’s newsletter was written on January 10, 2022, months before Marcos became president. After getting elected president, Marcos now enjoys diplomatic immunity under international law. 

“Is that the trend now?” The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo took the top trend on Twitter Philippines after Marcos posted a vlog of his New York trip as Super Typhoon Karding hit Luzon.

Marcos supporters said the New York vlog was meant to be a “report,” adding it was a coincidence that it was uploaded when Karding made landfall in Quezon province. 

Social media users were also outraged at how Marcos trivialized climate change during a briefing with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a contradiction to his UN General Assembly speech. 

Some users feel that this will not be the only time that #NasaanAngPangulo, a hashtag that was also used to call out the absence of former president Rodrigo Duterte during times of disaster, will trend under Marcos. 

October 2022

“Productive?” While the country was recovering from Super Typhoon Karding, Marcos flew to Singapore to attend the Formula One Grand Prix race. Filipinos online said the incident showed that Marcos did “not care” and was “running away from his job.”

Bersamin’s defense of the President’s trip added fuel to the fire, particularly his comment that questions about the use of government funds for the trip were “irrelevant.”

Silenced by a bullet. Filipinos were shocked by the killing of radio broadcaster Percival Mabasa, known as Percy Lapid. Netizens said his murder “confirms the truth behind his exposés” and demanded accountability as the hashtag  #JusticeForPercyLapid trended on Twitter.

More resignations. Former press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles resigned from her post on October 4, due to “certain medical conditions.” Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin confirmed the resignation of Commission on Audit chairperson Jose Calida on the same day.   

Calida was flagged several times for receiving high allowances during his term as solicitor general of the Duterte administration. 

Social media users said the series of resignations “clearly shows how unstable [the] Marcos government is.”

https://twitter.com/lugmaograndel/status/1577200744737882112

Marcos said in his own words that he managed to “put together a government which is functional” in his first 100 days. He flexed his economic team to show how he was able to “find the best and brightest to help and to serve in government.” 

However, a recent Pulse Asia survey showed that while the President got majority approval for 11 out of 13 national concerns, 42% of Filipinos disapproved of his performance in controlling inflation, the top urgent issue for respondents. 

Marcos supporters are on the defensive, emphasizing the more positive parts of the survey and saying that it was not only in the Philippines where there was rising inflation. They put the blame on the war in Ukraine. 

A group of supporters called the ‘UNITED TWITTER LOYALIST’ also gave keywords and hashtags to trend in support of Marcos and his allies. They were able to get the keywords “PROTECT BBM” and #DefendBBM to trend nationwide on Thursday, October 6.

As Marcos continues his term, Filipinos online will be watching very closely if he will get to fulfill his promise to “move forward together” with them. – with reports from Aidan Bernales, Issa Canlas, and Farley Bermeo Jr./Rappler.com

Aidan Bernales is a Rappler intern. He is a sophomore communications student at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Issa Canlas is a digital communications intern at Rappler. She is a student at the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Farley Bermeo Jr. is a communication arts graduate from UP Los Baños and a Digital Communications volunteer at Rappler. 

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Russell Ku

Russell Ku is a digital communications specialist at Rappler, believing in the power of stories to build an empathic society. Outside of work, he dives deep into pop culture, especially the world of K-Pop.