The vitriolic mayor Rodrigo Duterte looked nearly certain to become the Philippines' next president after Monday elections. His likely victory has roiled markets and generated political uncertainty.
With nearly 90 percent of ballots counted following Monday's elections, the controversial mayor of the southern city of Davao had a clear lead over his competitors.
Duterte had won more than 14.4 million votes, nearly double his closest rivals, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas with 8.6 million votes, and Senator Grace Poe with 8.1 million votes.
The 71-year-old political outsider ran on a campaign to fight crime, corruption and poverty. But his brazen statements that he would resort to extrajudicial killings to rid the country of crime raised questions over the rule of law and democracy in the country.
At a rally on the Saturday before elections, Duterte told the audience he would be tough on crime as he had been in Davaos.
"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.
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 doesn't match reality.
Ratings agency S&P Global said in a report on Monday Duterte would create economic and political uncertainty, especially if he spars with the political elite. Markets have been down in 10 of the last 11 trading days amid investor fear and uncertainty.
Voters also cast ballots on Monday for the vice president, 300 lawmakers and about 18,000 local government officials.
cw/bw (AP, Reuters)