Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

[Rappler’s Best] Fasten seatbelt, Mr. President

Glenda M. Gloria

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[Rappler’s Best] Fasten seatbelt, Mr. President

Nico Villarete/Rappler

'Where has President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. taken us since former president Rodrigo Duterte stepped down in June 2022?'

June 30 marked the second year of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and he enters his third without an education secretary and without the Uniteam he bandied about in an election campaign that he won with a historic 60% of the votes. His former ally is now his biggest destabilizer – and I mean the kind that haunts his plans, his decisions, his understanding of what lies ahead, his panic buttons when he sleeps.

The Dutertes may have left the ruling coalition, but they have become part of the equation in the thoughts and choices of an inexperienced leader who soars on the global stage but struggles with governance. In Marcos Year 2, our special coverage of the President’s second year in office, Malacañang reporter Dwight de Leon delves into the broken promise of unity, and how the Dutertes have become a “recurring theme – or headache” for Marcos. 

  • Marcos’ approval ratings – while still at a majority – have tumbled, based on Pulse Asia’s numbers. His biggest drop in a March 2024 survey was in the Dutertes’ homecourt, Mindanao. 
  • He has been, however, consolidating his forces for decisive wins in the 2025 senatorial and local polls.  
  • On Saturday, June 29, Marcos was asked if he had already chosen an education secretary to replace Vice President Sara Duterte, and all he could say was, “nahirapan akong pumili.” (I had a tough time choosing.) A resignation that was a long time coming – and which was fueled by the administration, anyway – saw a totally unprepared President skipping the basic homework of preparing for the inevitable. (As an aside, this is a presidential bad habit – Marcos could not make up his mind too when he appointed the next Philippine National Police chief whom he named OIC one day only to replace him with a permanent one less than 24 hours later. And remember how it was when Marcos reinstated a military chief whom he had already removed?)

The open split could not have come at a worst time – barely a year before midterm elections that incumbent administrations usually breeze through. While it is true that the President, with his power of the purse and perks, holds influence over the clans and gatekeepers that matter in polls, it is also true that campaigns today have become about false narratives and noise. Marcos knows the value of false narratives; Duterte knows the value of both. So, good luck to all of us in 2025!

But where has Marcos taken us since former president Rodrigo Duterte stepped down in June 2022?

Thought Leader Vergel Santos says that the rubble left behind by Duterte allowed for any successor to do better. He points out that Marcos, on the one hand, has succeeded in further entrenching his family and, on the other, managed to galvanize other countries’ support for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) cause. He asks: Would you have preferred Duterte to Marcos and China to the United States? Read more in this piece.

Veteran business journalist Val Villanueva writes that Marcos’ wins in the economic front are dwarfed by his inability to address inflation and rising prices, a ballooning public debt, and the persistent yawning gap between wealth and poverty. Read about the administration’s hits and misses in the economy here.

On advancing the climate agenda in the Philippines, environment advocate John Leo Algo says the Marcos administration fares better than Duterte. But not by much. Read more about it here. What about the LGBTQ+ groups? Do they consider Marcos an ally? Check it out in this piece.

There’s one gut concern that Marcos put his foot down on: jeepney consolidation. Was it a success? Rappler business reporter Lance Spencer Yu walks us through a messy issue.

In the end, the most consequential issue – for the nation, for his administration – is China and the West Philippine Sea. This must-read from Rappler’s editor-at-large Marites Vitug exposes the cracks in the WPS team that has, prior to the June 17 skirmish with the China Coast Guard at Ayungin Shoal, sailed through smooth waters – in one voice, under one command. What happened after showed Marcos’ inability to take control of a crisis situation caused by the competing interests and mindsets that are now muddying his government’s strategy towards China and the WPS. This is Marcos’ “high noon” moment, Vitug warns.

To get more insights and scenarios on the issue, you still have time to attend our exclusive Rappler+ briefing on the WPS with Vitug and our security/foreign affairs reporter Bea Cupin this Thursday, July 4, at 2:30 pm. You have until Tuesday, July 2, to join Rappler+ and get a free slot. Sign up here. Email plus@rappler.com with proof of your sign-up to confirm your slot and receive further details.

See you on Thursday? – Rappler.com

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Glenda M. Gloria

Glenda Gloria co-founded Rappler in July 2011 and is currently its executive editor.