Philippines votes for new president, prospect of Marcos revival looms

  • Voting underway, polling official says early turnout is encouraging
  • “Everything is fine”, no untoward incidents so far – poll
  • The election is a rematch between favorite Marcos and Vice President Robredo
  • Unofficial tally could show winner’s hours after polls close

MANILA, May 9 (Reuters) – Polls opened on Monday in the Philippines in the country’s most contentious presidential election in decades, with the prospect of a once-unthinkable return to power for the Marcos family 36 years later. to have been overthrown in a “people power uprising.

The election pits Vice President Leni Robredo against former Senator and Congressman Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son and namesake of a dictator whose two-decade rule ended in public revolt and the humiliating retirement of his family in exile.

Opinion polls put Marcos, popularly known as ‘Bongbong’, ahead of his rival by more than 30 percentage points, having topped all polls this year. That means Robredo will need a late raise or low turnout if she wants to win the presidency.

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Voters began queuing well before polling stations opened at 6 a.m. (2200 GMT Sunday), with polling stations set to operate longer than usual due to COVID-19 precautions.

Polling stations close at 7 p.m. and an unofficial tally of votes could give an indication of the winner within hours.

Marcos, 64, has presented no real political platform, but his presidency should ensure the continuity of incumbent leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose ruthless and strong approach proved popular and helped him quickly consolidate the able.

Robredo, 57, a former human rights lawyer and staunch liberal, has pledged to improve education and wellbeing, fight poverty and improve market competition if elected .

The Electoral Commission (Comelec) said on Monday that it had not received reports of major problems on the ground so far, but there had been minor delays in voting in some constituencies in the provinces. southern parts of Cotabato and Marawi.

“Our assumption is that everything went well because there have been no untoward and negative reports so far,” Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said during a briefing. briefing.

Marcos voted in his home province of Ilocos Norte and spoke only briefly to reporters as he left.

Marcos is buoyed by the support of many young Filipinos born after the 1986 revolution, after he launched a massive social media offensive in an optimistic campaign that carried undertones of historical revisionism. Read more

Her followers and social media influencers dismissed tales of looting, cronyism and brutality under her late father’s martial law as lies peddled by naysayers, presenting what her critics say is a different side of the story. Camp Marcos has denied conducting disinformation campaigns.

Despite their disgrace, the Marcos family returned from exile in the 1990s and have since been a powerful force in Philippine politics, maintaining influence with vast wealth and far-reaching connections.

The vote also offers Marcos an opportunity to avenge his loss to Robredo in the 2016 vice-presidential election, a narrow loss of just 200,000 votes that he sought unsuccessfully to overturn.

Marcos avoided debate and campaigned on a message of optimism and unity, telling hundreds of thousands of supporters on Saturday that he dreamed of a “victory for the unity of the whole Philippines”.

Robredo promised his supporters better education, health care and public services if elected.

A game-changer in the election could be Vice Presidential Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, the incumbent president’s popular daughter, who could transfer some of her father’s huge support to Marcos. The president did not endorse any candidate.

About 65 million Filipinos are eligible to vote to appoint a successor to Duterte after his six years in office.

About 18,000 positions are also up for grabs, ranging from senate and congressional seats to mayors, governors and councillors. Read more

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Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz and Karen Lema in Manila, and Adrian Portugal and Eloisa Lopez in Batac, Ilocos Norte.; Written by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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