Polls close after Philippines vote on Aquino agenda, reforms, corruption | News | DW | 13.05.2013
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Polls close after Philippines vote on Aquino agenda, reforms, corruption

Midterm polls have closed in the Philippines. Imelda Marcos, Manny Pacquiao and other political names dominated ballots to gauge popular support for the president's anti-corruption drive and other reforms.

Polling started at 7 a.m. (2300 GMT) and ended at 7 p.m., with results expected Wednesday. President Benigno Aquino III called for the midterm polls in which voters will elect thousands of positions, from local leaders to national legislators as a referendum on his efforts to transform a corrupt political system and an underperforming economy.

"The president is asking voters to put their confidence in those on the administration slate to help him carry out the rest of his reform agenda," presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told the news agency AFP.

Fifty-two million registered to elect 18,000 officials, including half the 24-member Senate and nearly 300 representatives. Concerns include the potential failure of voting machines in regions prone to blackouts. The official election watchdog received reports of breakdowns, including near Manila, the capital.

The opposition is led by deposed President Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has emerged as the administration's rival, potentially positioning himself for the 2016 presidential race. His daughter is also running for the opposition, which has urged voters to keep the legislature independent.

"If (the Senate) would be filled with the president's allies, they may not point out the wrong that's being done," said Ernesto Maceda, a candidate for the United Nationalist Alliance.

Famous names

Senate candidates include Aquino relatives, Binay's daughter, and the sons of the sitting chamber president, a late national president, and Estrada, the deposed president, as well as the children of former senators. There is also the possibility that a pair of siblings will serve in the chamber simultaneously. Fifteen current senators have relatives serving in elected positions.

Imelda Marcos, the 83-year-old widow of toppled autocrat Ferdinand Marcos, should keep her House seat for Ilocos Norte, where locals repeatedly elected her husband despite allegations of corruption and abuse. Marcos' daughter Imee is seeking re-election as Ilocos Norte governor and son, Ferdinand Jr., or "Bongbong," holds a senate seat. Ferdinand Sr. was also linked to the 1983 assassination of his political rival Benigno Aquino Jr., the father of the current president.

Incumbent Representative Manny Pacquiao - known as Pac-Man, the Mexicutioner and the Fighting Pride of the Philippines during his 54-5 boxing career (38 KOs) - runs unopposed and has begun his own dynasty. The former boxer's wife, Jinkee, has put herself up for vice governor for Sarangani province and his brother hopes to represent his own district.

Bloodlines have long dominated elections in the Philippines. At least 250 political families have monopolized power across the country, although such dynasties are prohibited under the 1987 constitution. Congress, long controlled by members of powerful clans targeted by the constitutional ban, has failed to pass the law needed to define and enforce the provision.

mkg/hc (AFP, dpa, AP)