Power Connections and the Marcos Presidency

By Leah Perez, Andie Canivel

The continuity between Duterte and Marcos Jr. is clear. The public may note the differences in manner

or style but the similarities are too obvious to ignore.

ON NOVEMBER 25, 2021, the Marcos-Duterte tandem was formalized, fully backed by political parties that counted among their stalwarts, former Presidents, and their children.

The four-party alliance included Lakas-CMD, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), and Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) all supporting PFP standard-bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.; and Lakas-CMD Vice Presidential candidate Sara Duterte, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte. The parties’ collective support represented the Arroyo, Duterte, Estrada, and Marcos families.

Dubbed as ‘Uniteam,’ Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte overwhelmed all other candidates on May 9. The two families joined two major bailiwicks of support: Duterte’s Mindanao vote in the South and the Marcos family’s Solid North in Luzon. 

The Marcos-Duterte team up for 2022 was predictable. While campaigning in 2016 with Alan Peter Cayetano as his candidate for Vice President (VP), Duterte expressed his preference for Bongbong Marcos who was running as VP to Miriam Defensor Santiago. Further, Duterte openly declared his admiration for Marcos Sr. and shortly after taking office, issued an executive order to allow the Marcos patriarch a hero’s burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Later during his term, Duterte expressed criticism of Bongbong Marcos; but despite this, many believe the link between the two to be genuine and organic. Duterte could not have been President without the early financial support of the Marcos family and Marcos Jr. could not have won without teaming up with Sara Duterte. 

Among politicians, support for a candidate’s campaign works like a business transaction where both sides can count on a share of political dividends. 

CMFR reviewed the appointments made by President Marcos Jr. in 2022 to demonstrate the powers represented in his government. A visual map shows the interconnections in the Cabinet and other significant agencies, including appointed ambassadors. The visuals trace family connections and long standing links among appointees, the President and/or his allies. CMFR also provides brief notes on the experience of appointees in the public or private sector. 

The chart below shows the overall list of connections represented by the President’s appointees in 2022, limiting the list to key appointments with the most notable or most significant connections to the President, his family, and his two major political allies, former Presidents Duterte and Arroyo. 

Overlapping Connections

Marcos’ selection for Palace and Cabinet appointments included those who worked as part of the campaign team and other supporters who were given plum positions in the Office of the President. Appointed officials include members of the Marcos and Romualdez families, and long-time supporters of his father.

Significantly, he retained officials from the previous administration, noted as “hang-over” or “recycled” Duterte appointments. A third of his appointments were connected to Arroyo, who is also referred to as “godmother” or sponsor of the Marcos-Duterte union. 

Not surprisingly, Marcos’ appointees include those who served previously under several administrations or are linked to more than just one past President.  

These appointees are not necessarily power holders on their own; nor are the links necessarily detrimental to the worthy performance of their duties. But their appointments reveal the reality of dynastic chains of power in which the media and the public should be aware of. CMFR included appointees who had served in a previous administrations, pointing out those who were involved in cases filed by the Marcos family. 

Nine Marcos Jr. appointments served or have links with past administrations. Three (Romualdez, Guevarra, and Garcia) are tied to both Duterte and the Marcoses. Three others (de Leon, Lumagui Jr., and Ople) are linked to Arroyo and Marcos Sr. Another three (Cordoba, Abalos Jr., and Arroyo-Bernas) to Arroyo and Duterte.

Arroyo ties

Two Marcos appointments (Bonoan and Lotilla) served under President Arroyo. 

Duterte ties 

Sara Duterte, the daughter of the former President, was elected as Vice President. She is joined by four other Marcos Jr. appointees (Pangandaman, de Vera III, Diokno, and Frasco) linked to the Dutertes. 


Jose Enrique Manalo, Arsenio Balisacan, and Felipe Medalla all served under Duterte. Balisacan was NEDA Director General under President Benigno Aquino III and later Chair of Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) which he continued to hold during the Duterte administration. Medalla was NEDA chief under the Estrada administration and BSP Monetary Board member and BSP Governor under Duterte. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Manalo is a career diplomat who was Acting DFA Secretary during the Estrada administration from March to May 2017 when Perfecto Yasay Jr.’s appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments due to citizenship issues. He was also posted as PH Ambassador to the UK and DFA Undersecretary under Duterte. Manalo is a son of envoys who were already in the Foreign Service during the time of Marcos Sr.: His father was the late Ambassador Armando Manalo, a journalist who served as PH Ambassador to Belgium and political adviser of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, while his mother is Ambassador Rosario Manalo and the first female career diplomat of DFA.

Marcos family ties

Eight appointees in the current administration served under Marcos Sr. or have links with other Marcoses. Two (Enrile and Laguesma) served under Marcos Sr. Another two (Estrella III and Lagdameo Jr.) are relatives of officials who served under Marcos Sr. Four (Remulla, Palpal-latoc, Angping, and Lazo) are friends or relatives of Marcos allies and family members.

This shows how blood lines and long standing political bonds have proved the strongest force in the formation of this government. 

Early Resignations

Five Marcos appointments (Rodriguez, Cruz-Angeles, Calida, Guillermo, and Sebastian) resigned or departed from their positions. Guillermo and Sebastian are known career officials. It is unclear if Guillermo resigned or was replaced. She told the media that she would observe the ruling of the Supreme Court on the estate taxes owed by the President’s family. Meanwhile, Sebastian resigned after taking full accountability for the controversy over sugar importation. He has since been reinstated.

Three key officials announced their resignations on one single day, October 4.

Continuous lines connect Marcos Sr., Duterte and Marcos Jr.

The continuity between Duterte and Marcos Jr. is clear. The public may note the differences in manner or style but the similarities are too obvious to ignore. Marcos has done little to actually turn the page on many problematic aspects of Duterte’s leadership – the inefficiency and the laid back attitude about urgent problems that call for immediate attention and action. Marcos has also kept close to Duterte’s playbook in terms of militarization and human rights. 

The appointments all draw from the same pool of connections based on family and politics. Bongbong Marcos did not have a broad network of connections on his own. His range of selection was thus limited, as he himself did not bring to the Presidency significant political experience. 

The early resignations indicate only one aspect of the problems of forming a strong Cabinet. 

Months in power, key positions remain vacant. The lack of a Health Secretary and the vacancy in the Anti-Poverty commission raise questions about Marcos’ appreciation of urgent issues confronting the country and its citizens. The fact that he continues to serve as concurrent Agriculture Secretary continues to vex and perplex, given the serious problems with food production and food security.

The presidency of Marcos Jr. may bring to test his personal capacity but also the power connections that his Cabinet represents.