Wednesday, 22 May, 2024

Late strongman’s son takes big lead in Philippine presidential poll



With more than 60 percent of the country’s precincts reporting, Ferdinand Marcos Jr had garnered over 20 million votes against liberal candidate Leni Robredo’s 9.4 million.

Marcos Jr has presented no real policy platform but his presidency is expected to provide continuity from outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose strongman approach proved popular.
Marcos Jr has presented no real policy platform but his presidency is expected to provide continuity from outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose strongman approach proved popular. (AFP)

The son of late Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos has commanded a massive early lead in the presidential election, heading for what could be a historic landslide victory.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, 64, was seen doubling the tally of his nearest rival Leni Robredo, according to an unofficial tally of results on Monday.

In the Philippines, the winner only has to get more votes than anyone else.

But if sustained, the tally—published by local media from Commission on Elections figures—would make Marcos the first Philippine president since his father's ouster to be elected with an absolute majority.

It would also signal an astonishing turnaround for the fortunes of the Marcos clan, who have come from pariahs to the presidential palace in a generation.

READ MORE:Philippines votes for new president in 'most consequential election'

Writing on the wall?

Commission on Elections chief George Garcia told AFP news agency: "Until the last vote is counted, it's not yet the end of everything."

But the writing appeared to be on the wall for Marcos's nine rivals, vying to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte in elections seen by many as a make-or-break moment for the Philippines' fragile democracy.

The results would be a crushing blow for supporters of Robredo, the incumbent vice president who turned her campaign into a movement to defend democracy.

Robredo, a 57-year-old lawyer and economist, had promised to clean up the dirty style of politics that has long plagued the feudal and corrupt democracy, where a handful of surnames hold sway.

Other candidates seeking the presidency included boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and former street scavenger-turned-actor Francisco Domagoso.

Whatever the result, Marcos Jr opponents have already vowed to pursue efforts to have him disqualified over a previous tax conviction and to extract billions of dollars in estate taxes from his family.

From before dawn, mask-clad voters formed long queues to cast their ballots in 70,000 polling stations across the archipelago. Polls officially closed at 7:00 pm (1100 GMT).

More than 60,000 security personnel have been deployed to protect polling stations and election workers.

Police reported at least two deadly shootings at polling stations on the restive southern island of Mindanao that had left four people dead and three wounded.

Misinformation on social media, meanwhile, sought to confuse voters. The Commission on Elections branded as "fake and spurious" documents circulating online showing it had disqualified a senatorial hopeful and five political parties.

READ MORE:Is the Philippines on the verge of another Marcos presidency?

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