Marcos: With Marcos Jr. tipped to win, Philippines at a weak moment – Times of India


MANILA: The son and namesake of deposed Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos took the lead in an unofficial tally of more than 60% of the vote in Monday’s presidential election in deeply divided Asian democracy.
Marcos Jr. had more than 20.9 million votes, far ahead of its closest challenger, current Vice President Leni Robredo, a human rights campaigner, who had 9.9 million votes.
The election winner will take office on June 30 for a single six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hard hit by two years of Covid-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.
Even more challenging issues include deeper poverty and unemployment and decades of Muslim and Communist uprisings. The next president is also likely to hear demands to prosecute outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of murders during his drug crackdown — deaths already under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Duterte’s daughter, the mayor of the southern city of Davao, Sara Duterte, is the vice presidential running mate of Marcos Jr. in an alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders engaged in human rights groups. The partnership has combined the voting rights of their separate northern and southern political strongholds, increasing their opportunities but raising the concerns of human rights defenders.
Sara Duterte also had a formidable lead for vice president in the Commission’s unofficial count on the election server. The President and Vice President are elected separately in the Philippines.
“History can repeat itself if they win,” said Myles Sanchez, a 42-year-old human rights activist. “There could be a recurrence of martial law and the drug killings that took place under their parents.”
Marcos Jr., whose father was ousted in an army-backed “People Power” uprising in 1986, had a big lead in pre-election polls. But Robredo reacted with shock and outrage at the prospect of a Marcos regaining power and enlisted a network of campaign volunteers to support her candidacy.
Officials said the elections were relatively peaceful despite the violence in the unstable south of the country. Thousands of police and military personnel were deployed to secure election zones, especially in rural regions with a history of violent political rivalry.
Filipinos lined up to cast their votes, with the start of voting being delayed by a few hours in some areas due to malfunctioning voting machines, power outages, inclement weather and other problems.
Eight others entered the presidential race, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former National Police Chief Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Sanchez said the violence and abuses that characterized the era of martial law under the Marcos and Duterte drug wars more than three decades later fell victim to loved ones from two generations of her family. Her grandmother was sexually abused and her grandfather was tortured in the early 1980s by insurgent troops under Marcos in their impoverished farming village in southern Leyte province.
Under Duterte’s crackdown, Sanchez’s brother, sister and sister-in-law were falsely associated with illegal drugs and killed separately, she told The Associated Press in an interview. She described the murders of her siblings as “a nightmare that has caused unspeakable pain.”
She begged Filipinos not to vote for politicians who either openly defended the widespread killings or conveniently looked the other way.
Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte avoided such volatile issues in the campaign and held steadfast to a rallying cry of national unity, even though their father’s presidency opened up some of the Philippines’ most turbulent divisions.
“I’ve learned in our campaign not to retaliate,” Sara Duterte told followers on Saturday night on the final day of the campaign, where she and Marcos Jr. a huge crowd thanked in a night of rap music, dance shows and fireworks near Manila Bay.
At her own gathering, Robredo thanked her supporters who disrupted her star-studded missions and waged a door-to-door battle to endorse her brand of clean and practical politics. She asked them to fight for patriotic ideals after the election.
“We have learned that those who are awakened will never close their eyes again,” Robredo told a crowd that filled the main street in the capital’s Makati financial district. “It is our right to have a dignified future and it is our responsibility to fight for it.”
In Maguindanao Province, a security hotspot to the south, three village guards were killed by gunmen outside an election center in the city of Buluan, temporarily disrupting the vote. Nine potential voters and their companions were separately injured Sunday night when unknown men fired five rifle grenades into Datu Unsay town hall, police said.
Aside from the presidency, more than 18,000 government posts are contested, including half of the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as provincial and local offices in the archipelago of more than 109 million Filipinos.
More than 67 million people were registered to vote, including about 1.6 million Filipinos abroad.
In the 2016 contest, Duterte emerged as the clear winner within hours of the polls closing and his main challengers quickly relented. That year’s vice presidential race was narrowly won by Robredo over Marcos Jr., and the outcome was announced more slowly.

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