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Philippines candidate concedes to Duterte

May 10, 2016

After unofficial tallies showed a likely victory for Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines presidential election, his main rival Mar Roxas has conceded. An official count is pending but Duterte's lead appears safe.

Philippinen Wahlen Unterstützer von Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte
Image: Reuters/E. De Castro

On Tuesday, the strongest opponent in the Philippines presidential race to has conceded victory.

Mar Roxas said "it is clear Mayor Duterte will be the next president" after unofficial tallies showed Duterte with an insurmountable lead. Senator Grace Poe, who took third place in the election, had conceded on Monday.

"It's with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people," Duterte told the AFP news agency on Tuesday.

Duterte, currently the mayor of the southern city of Davao, polled nearly 39 percent of the votes in Monday's election, according to the unofficial tally. Roxas trailed with just over 23 percent. Roughly 90 percent of the vote had been tallied.

Tough stance on criminals

The 71-year-old political outsider ran on a campaign to fight crime, corruption and poverty.

But Duterte's brazen statements, that he would resort to extrajudicial killings to rid the country of crime, have raised questions over the rule of law and democracy in the country.

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At a rally on the Saturday before the elections, Duterte told the audience he would be tough on crime as he had been in Davao.

"All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you," Duterte, 71, a former prosecutor, told a rally. "I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots."

Duterte has made bellicose remarks during the campaign, vowing to fight corruption and poor governance. At one point he said corrupt officials should "retire, or die." Other times the straight-talking candidate bragged about his sexual prowess and joked about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary.

Voters reject corruption

On one of the Philippines' central foreign policy questions, Duterte has called for negotiations with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. If negotiations failed, he vowed to sail to China's artificial islands and hoist the Philippine flag. If China shoots him, he said that would make him a martyr.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III called on voters not to elect Duterte, warning he could revert the country back to authoritarianism and threaten several years of solid economic growth of about 6 percent.

Filipinos are sensitive about democracy since ousting late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a 1986 "people power" revolt.

By handing Dutente a win voters clearly showed they were fed up with a corrupt establishment that has been unable to end poverty and inequality. Although Dutente has been unclear about economic policy, analysts say his rhetoric does not match reality.

mz/jm (Reuters, AFP)