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Philippines: Marcos Jr. wins election landslide

May 9, 2022

With most votes counted, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had more than 30.8 million votes. A win would return the Marcos dynasty to power. Hundreds gathered to protest the results of the election.

Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Lipa
Marcos Jr. has taken an early lead in the country's presidential election.Image: REUTERS

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the ousted dictator, looks set for a comprehensive victory in Monday's presidential election in the Philippines.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters gathered Philippines' elections body to reject the unofficial election results. They said thousands were unable to vote, because of machines malfunctioning.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) denied calls to extend the voting hours and stressed the number of affected machines was small.

Having collected more than 30.8 million votes in the unofficial results with more than 97% of the votes counted, Marcos is on course to replace President Rodrigo Duterte.

"If we'll be fortunate, I'll expect that your help will not wane, your trust will not wane because we have a lot of things to do in the times ahead," Marcos said in a video he shared late Monday night.

Election officials said the vote was relatively peaceful despite pockets of violence in the country's volatile south. 

The Commission on Elections reported problems with some 2,000 malfunctioning vote-counting machines, power outages, missing names on voters' list and otherm but said turnout appeared to have been high.

Marcos' nearest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, had 14.7 million votes.

Robredo conceded defeat, and said, "The voice of the people is getting clearer and clearer. In the name of the Philippines, which I know you also love so dearly, we should hear this voice because in the end, we only have." She urged her supporters to "press for the truth."

Who were the main candidates?

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., also known as "Bongbong," is pitted against the incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.

Marcos Jr. is the son and namesake of a dictator whose two decade rule ended in a public revolt and his family's retreat into exile. He is leading by over 30 percentage points, and has topped every poll this year. This means Robredo will need a late surge or low turnout if she is to win the presidency.

Polls opened at 6 am local time (2200 GMT) and are set to stay open longer than usual, till 7 pm, due to COVID precautions. 

Eight other candidates, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former national police chief Sen. Panfilo Lacson, have lagged far behind in voter preference surveys.

Philippines presidential election

What are the candidates promising voters?

Both the main candidates have promised to prioritize economic recovery after the pandemic. 

Robredo has pledged to increase investment to tackle climate change, level the playing field for business and promote public-private partnerships.

Marcos, 64, has not presented many details about his policies, but is expected to carry ahead the same approach as his predecessor Duterte, pursuing a ruthless consolidation of power.

Critics say Marcos is attempting to rewrite the family's controversial history for a youthful electorate, though they believe he is unlikely to replicate his father's authoritarian style of ruling. 

"He made promises [in his campaign] that played well with the public but aren't particularly practicable. So his campaign has focused on gut issues, such as the rising cost of living, and lowering electricity [prices]. But he is providing a vague notion of what he is able to achieve, making it seem more straightforward than it actually is, and people seem to be buying it," said DW Correspondent Janelle Dumalaon.

Duterte's daughter, southern Davao city Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, has topped surveys as Marcos Jr.'s vice-presidential running mate.

"The two [Marcos and Duterte-Caprio] represent the worst brand of traditional politics and governance in our nation's history. We thus call upon the Filipino people to strongly reject the notorious tandem and to stand strong against possible and further suppression and violation of people's rights," human rights group Karapatan told DPA agency. 

What's at stake?

"History may repeat itself if they win. There may be a repeat of martial law and the drug killings that happened under their parents," human rights worker Myles Sanchez told AP news agency regarding a Marcos Jr./Duterte-Caprio victory.

Victims remember Marcos dictatorship

Robredo, 57, is a former human rights lawyer and staunch liberal, and has pledged to improve education and welfare, fight poverty and improve market competition if elected. She had narrowly defeated Marcos in the run for vice presidency in 2016. 

She has criticized Duterte's war on drugs, and condemned the "senseless killings."

A win for Robredo would make her the third woman to lead the Philippines after democracy champion Corazon Aquino in 1986 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001.

She is running with Francis Pangilinan, a lawyer and senator, and the latest survey put her in second place, with 23% support.

tg, lo/msh  (AFP, AP, Reuters)