With Marcos Jr. tipped to win, Philippines at tenuous moment

May 8, 2022, 4:55 PM | Updated: May 9, 2022, 7:09 am
Election workers check a paper jam on a voting machine at a polling center Monday, May 9, 2022 in Q...

Election workers check a paper jam on a voting machine at a polling center Monday, May 9, 2022 in Quezon City, Philippines. Filipinos were voting for a new president Monday, with the son of an ousted dictator and a champion of reforms and human rights as top contenders in a tenuous moment in a deeply divided Asian democracy. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Filipinos stood in long lines to choose a new president Monday, with the son of an ousted dictator and a champion of human rights the top contenders in a tenuous moment in a deeply divided Asian democracy.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the strongman ousted in a 1986 army-backed “People Power” uprising, held a seemingly insurmountable lead in pre-election surveys. But his closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, has tapped into shock and outrage over the prospect of a Marcos recapturing the seat of power and harnessed a network of campaign volunteers to underpin her candidacy.

Eight others are in the presidential race, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former national police chief Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Long lines of voters turned up early across most of the country, with the start of voting delayed by a few hours in a few areas due to malfunctioning vote machines, power outages, bad weather and other problems.

Thousands of police and military personnel were deployed to secure election precincts, especially in rural regions with a history of violent political rivalries and where communist and Muslim rebels are active. In Maguindanao province, a security hotspot in the south, three village guards were killed by gunmen outside an elections center in Buluan town, briefly disrupting voting. Nine would-be voters and their companions were wounded separately Sunday night when unidentified men fired five rifle grenades in the Datu Unsay town hall, police said.

The election winner will take office on June 30 for a single, six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hit hard by two years of COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.

Still more challenging problems include a pandemic-battered economy, deeper poverty and unemployment and decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies. The next president is also likely to hear demands to prosecute outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of killings during his anti-drug crackdown — deaths already under investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Duterte’s daughter, southern Davao city Mayor Sara Duterte, has topped surveys as Marcos Jr.’s vice-presidential running mate in an alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders who concern human rights groups. The tie-up has combined the voting power of their separate northern and southern political strongholds, boosting their chances but compounding worries of human rights activists.

“History may repeat itself if they win,” said Myles Sanchez, a 42-year-old human rights worker. “There may be a repeat of martial law and the drug killings that happened under their parents.”

Sanchez said the violence and abuses that marked the martial-law era under Marcos and Duterte’s drug war more than three decades later victimized loved ones from two generations of her family. Her grandmother was sexually abused and her grandfather tortured by counterinsurgency troops under Marcos in the early 1980s in their impoverished farming village in Southern Leyte province.

Under Duterte’s crackdown, Sanchez’s brother, a sister and a sister-in-law were wrongfully linked to illegal drugs and separately killed, she told The Associated Press in an interview. She described the killings 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 away.

Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte have avoided such volatile issues in the campaign and steadfastly stuck instead to a battle cry of national unity, even though their fathers’ presidencies opened some of the Philippines’ most turbulent divisions.

“I have learned in our campaign not to retaliate,” Sara Duterte told followers Saturday night on the final day of campaigning, where she and Marcos Jr. thanked a huge crowd in a night of rap music, dance shows and fireworks near Manila Bay.

At her own rally, Robredo thanked her supporters who jammed her star-studded sorties and waged a house-to-house battle to endorse her brand of clean and hands-on politics. She asked them to fight for patriotic ideals beyond the elections.

“We’ve learned that those who have awoken will never close their eyes again,” Robredo told a crowd that filled the main avenue in the capital’s Makati financial district. “It’s our right to have a future with dignity and it’s our responsibility to fight for it.”

Aside from the presidency, more than 18,000 government posts are being contested, including half of the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as provincial and local offices across the archipelago of more than 109 million Filipinos.

More than 67 million people have registered, including about 1.6 million Filipinos overseas, to cast their ballot. When voting centers close after the 13-hour day, thousands of counting machines will immediately transmit the results to be tallied. In the 2016 contest, Duterte emerged as the clear winner within a few hours and his key challengers quickly conceded. The vice presidential race that year was won narrowly by Robredo over Marcos Jr., and the outcome was slower to become known.

___

Associated Press journalists Joeal Calupitan, Aaron Favila and Cecilia Forbes in Manila, Philippines, and Kiko Rosario in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A protester waves Hong Kong British colony flag during continuing pro-democracy rallies in T...
Associated Press

Hong Kong in limbo 25 years after British handover to China

HONG KONG (AP) — When the British handed its colony Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997, it was promised 50 years of self-government and freedoms of assembly, speech and press that are not allowed Chinese on the Communist-ruled mainland. As the city of 7.4 million people marks 25 years under Beijing’s rule on Friday, those […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Hindu man’s slaying stokes tensions in Indian city

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — Mobile internet services and large gatherings remained restricted in India’s western Udaipur city on Wednesday, a day after police arrested two Muslim men accused of killing a Hindu tailor in a suspected religious attack. The Hindu man, Kanhaiya Lal, was stabbed multiple times inside his tailoring shop Tuesday by two […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Abortion-rights activists protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday, June 25...
Associated Press

Clinics scramble to divert patients as states ban abortion

They call her, desperate, scared and often broke. Some are rape and domestic violence victims. Others are new mothers, still breastfeeding infants. Another pregnancy so soon, they say, is something they just can’t handle. “Heart wrenching,” said Angela Huntington, an abortion navigator for Planned Parenthood in Missouri, who is helping callers reschedule canceled abortion appointments […]
22 hours ago
A man pays his respects at the site where officials found dozens of people dead in a semitrailer co...
Associated Press

San Antonio migrant deaths lead to slow effort to ID victims

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Victims have been found with no identification documents at all and in one case a stolen ID. Remote villages lack phone service to reach family members and determine the whereabouts of missing migrants. Fingerprint data has to be shared and matched by different governments. More than a day after the discovery […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: June 29, first trans-Pacific flight

Today in History Today is Wednesday, June 29, the 180th day of 2022. There are 185 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On June 29, 1613, London’s original Globe Theatre, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed, was destroyed by a fire sparked by a cannon shot during a performance of “Henry […]
22 hours ago
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is seen reflected on a glass ceiling while speaking during her primary e...
Associated Press

Takeaways from first primaries since Roe v. Wade overturned

NEW YORK (AP) — A rare Republican who supports abortion rights found success in Colorado in the first primary elections held since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, while New York’s first female governor positioned herself to become a major voice in the post-Roe landscape. In Illinois, Democrats helped boost a Republican gubernatorial candidate […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
With Marcos Jr. tipped to win, Philippines at tenuous moment