The eponymous son of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appeared to have been elected Philippine president by a landslide in an astonishing reversal of the pro-democracy ‘People Power’ uprising of 1986 that led his father to global disgrace.
Marcos Jr. had more than 30.5 million votes in the unofficial results with more than 96% of the votes tabulated overnight after Monday’s election. His closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights and reform, had 14.5 million and is a great boxer. Manny Pacquiao turned out to have the third highest total at 3.5 million.
His running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing leader and mayor of the southern city of Davao, had a formidable lead in the vice presidential race, which is separate from the presidential race.
The alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders combined the voting rights of their families’ political strongholds in the north and south, but exacerbated the concerns of human rights activists.
Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte avoided fleeting trouble during their campaign and held steadfast to a rallying cry of national unity, though their father’s presidency opened up some of the most turbulent divisions in the country’s history.
Marcos Jr. did not claim the victory, but thanked his supporters in a nightly “speech to the nation” video, urging them to remain vigilant until the vote count is complete.
“If we are lucky, I expect that your help will not diminish, your confidence will not decrease because we have a lot to do in the coming time,” he said.
Robredo did not admit defeat, but acknowledged Marcos Jr.’s huge lead. in the unofficial count. She told her supporters that the struggle for reform and democracy will not end with the election.
“The voice of the people is becoming clearer,” she said. “In the name of the Philippines, which I know you love so much, we should hear this voice, because in the end we only have one nation to share.”
She asked her supporters to continue to stand up: “Press for the truth. It took a long time for the structure of lies to be established. We now have the time and the opportunity to fight and dismantle this.”
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 and has long suffered from crushing poverty, gaping inequalities, Muslim and communist uprisings and deep political divisions.
The next president is also likely to face demands to prosecute outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of murders during his drug crackdown — deaths already under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch called on apparent election winner Marcos Jr. to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines. “He should end the ‘war on drugs’ that has led to the extrajudicial killing of thousands of Filipinos and order the impartial investigation and appropriate prosecution of the officials responsible for these unlawful killings,” said Phil Robertson. , deputy director of the group. for Asia.
Marcos Jr., a 64-year-old former provincial governor, congressman and senator, was well ahead in pre-election polls. But Robredo had sparked shock and outrage at the prospect of a Marcos regaining power and had deployed a network of campaign volunteers to support her candidacy.
After his ouster by the largely peaceful 1986 uprising, the elder Marcos died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii without admitting any wrongdoing, including allegations that he, his family, and cronies amassed an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion. while he was in power. A Hawaii court later found him liable for human rights violations and awarded $2 billion from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who filed lawsuits against him for torture, incarceration, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
His widow, Imelda Marcos, and their children were allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991 and have worked on a stunning political comeback, aided by a well-funded social media campaign to revive the family name.
Marcos Jr. has defended his father’s legacy and steadfastly refused to acknowledge and apologize for the massive human rights violations and looting under his father’s rule.
Officials said Monday’s elections were relatively peaceful despite the violence in the unstable south of the country, which left at least four people dead in the unstable south. 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.
Aside from the presidency, there were more than 18,000 government posts on the list, including half of the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, and state and local offices across the archipelago.
In the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo defeated Marcos Jr. by a small margin in their first political confrontation. He waged a legal battle against her win for years, alleged fraud, which was defeated, but he never gave in.