Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is on course to win a landslide presidential election victory, with more than 90 percent of eligible ballots counted, according to unofficial data from the poll body.
Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr had secured almost 30 million votes, more than double the tally of his nearest rival, liberal candidate Leni Robredo, the current vice president and a champion of human rights.
The victory spells an astonishing turnaround for the fortunes of the Marcos clan, who have gone from the presidential palace to pariahs and back again in the space of half a century.
In 1986, Marcos senior and notoriously kleptocratic first lady Imelda Marcos were forced into exile by the ‘People Power’ revolution that ended Martial Law during which thousands of critics were tortured, killed or disappeared.
Despite their fall from grace, after Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989 the Marcoses returned from exile to resume their role in politics, retaining their influence with vast wealth and far-reaching connections.
The vote was also a chance for Marcos to avenge his loss to Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential election, a narrow defeat by just 260,000 votes that he sought unsuccessfully to overturn.
Marcos has presented no real policy platform, but his presidency is expected to mirror outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose notoriety proved popular and helped him consolidate power rapidly. Marcos’ running mate was Duterte’s daughter Sara, and they had support from the powerful families who dominate politics in the Philippines.
Robredo, a 57-year-old lawyer and economist, had promised to clean up the country’s politics, and tackle corruption.
Whatever the result, Marcos opponents have already pledged to pursue efforts to have him disqualified over a previous tax conviction and to extract billions of dollars in estate taxes from his family.
“It’s another crossroads for us,” Judy Taguiwalo, 72, an anti-Marcos activist who was arrested twice and tortured during the elder Marcos’s regime, told AFP news agency. “We need to continue to stand up and struggle,” she added.
Personality rather than policy typically influences many people’s choice of candidate, although vote-buying and intimidation are also perennial problems. 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.
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 left at least three people dead and three wounded. That followed a grenade attack on Sunday that injured nine people.
The winner of Monday’s election will take office on June 30 for a single, six-year term.
The president-elect will inherit immense problems, including a pandemic-battered economy, deep poverty and the legacy of Duterte’s brutal anti-drugs crackdown.
Aside from the presidency, more than 18,000 government posts were up for election, including half the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as provincial and local offices across the archipelago.
About 67 million people registered to cast their ballot.