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Philippines: Marcos Jr. Eyes Presidential Election Landslide

Former dictator's son Ferdinand Marcos Jr., also known as "Bongbong," is widely expected to defeat current Vice President Leni Robredo in the presidential race. Grenade attacks were reported at two polling booths.
People had queued up at voting booths before polls opened at 6 am local time.

People had queued up at voting booths before polls opened at 6 am local time.

Millions of Filipinos headed to polling stations on Monday, as the son of a former dictator looks set to come to power in the country's general election.

Although there are ten candidates for the elections that will decide the successor of President Rodrigo Duterte, only two contenders have a credible chance of victory.

Outside a polling station in Datu Unsay municipality on Mindanao island, southern Philippines, five grenades exploded, injuring nine. The region is a haven for communist armed groups and Islamist insurgents.

A grenade exploded in the neighboring municipality of Shariff Aguak, but there were no casualties. 

Normally, elections are a volatile time in a country with lax gun laws and a violent political culture, but police said this season has been comparatively peaceful. 

Who are 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.

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. 

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

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.

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/wd  (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Courtesy: DW

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