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The internet took swings at former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of convicted Martial Law strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who was officially a no-show at multi-awarded journalist Jessica Soho’s Presidential Interviews special which airs tonight on GMA News.

READ: So what was so bad about martial law?

The GMA News and Public Affairs division is under GMA-7, the network with the widest reach in the Philippines after the Duterte administration shut down the country’s largest broadcaster ABS-CBN in 2020.

The hashtag #MarcosDuwag (#MarcosCoward) topped Twitter trends as election drama unfolded towards the end of the week. After Marcos confirmed he was skipping Soho’s interviews — the only presidential bet in the upcoming May polls to do so —, screencaps of an alleged “troll farm manager” surfaced online, who tweeted alleged instructions to defend Marcos Jr.’s absence at the interviews before deleting said tweet, further fueling the flames of Twitter dissent.

This was followed by news reports that Twitter had suspended over 300 pro-Marcos accounts, citing violation of its policies against platform manipulation and spam, and also came days after news website Rappler released a report on Twitter handles promoting Marcos Jr.

After two days of silence, Marcos’ camp today released an official statement explaining his decision to skip the interview by Soho — one of the country’s most respected broadcasters — and cited the journalist’s supposed bias against the Marcos family, whose members have been tried and convicted of corruption and graft-related cases in local and international courts.

“The reason why Bongbong Marcos decided not to join the Jessica Soho show is founded on our belief that the hostess of the said popular talk show is biased against the Marcoses, and therefore, we believe her questions will just focus on the negativity about (Marcos) which the UniTeam dislike,” Marcos Jr.’s spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said in a statement, referring to the tandem of Marcos and Duterte’s daughter, Sara, his running mate in the 2022 polls.

“(The UniTeam) will not subscribe as it hopes the discourse must focus on how the aspiring presidents will solve our country’s lingering problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and what their plans are for our country to roll up from economic stagnation.”

This was met by anger online, fueling the rise of the #MarcosDuwag hashtag.

Twitter users took the opportunity to shade the candidate on his guesting on actress and host Toni Gonzaga’s YouTube vlog.

READ: The internet is fuming at Toni Gonzaga’s interview with Bongbong Marcos

READ: Is Toni Gonzaga becoming the Boy Abunda of presidentiables?

Others poked fun at the candidate, accusing him of being afraid to be interviewed by Soho, and revived an old video of him bungling an old interview with the journalist when he was running for senator.

Artist and comedian Jun Sabayton, who satirized Marcos Jr.’s ad in a viral video, also joined in on the fun.

Amid the online fanfare, a supposed diary entry by Ferdinand Marcos Sr. surfaced, where the former president called his son “too carefree and lazy.”

Meanwhile, sociologist Ash Presto surmised that Marcos Jr.’s no-show at the Soho interviews could undermine Marcos’ machinery.

READ: Eraserheads fan brings color—and meaning— to old photos of Buddy Zabala’s missing mother-in-law

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