International

Polls open in Philippines presidential election, with ex-dictator’s son favored

Supporters of presidential candidate, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator cheer as they wait for the last campaign rally known as “Miting De Avance” on May 7, 2022 in Paranaque city, Philippines. The winner of May 9, Monday’s vote will inherit a sagging economy, poverty and deep divisions, as well as calls to prosecute outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of deaths as part of a crackdown on illegal drugs. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Voting began Monday in the Philippines’ presidential election, with the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos appearing poised for victory.

The election, which is the most contentious in decades, pits Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known as Bongbong, against current Vice President Leni Robredo.

Marcos, whose running mate is current President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte, leads in the polls by 30 percentage points, according to Reuters.

Robredo has cast herself as free from the corruption of the Marcos family and has been a frequent critic of Rodrigo Duterte.

The election has placed a spotlight on the dynastic dominance in Philippines politics. It also marks a remarkable return to prominence for the Marcos family, just decades after fleeing the country amid rising discontent over corruption and brutality.

Observers have attributed the rehabilitation of the family name under Marcos Jr. largely to savvy social media campaigns geared toward younger voters who are less familiar with the elder Marcos’s ruthless rule.

His populist campaign is based on a platform of “unity,” along with more jobs, an increase in investments and lower prices, CNN reported

Rodrigo Duterte also established himself as a strong-armed president after his election in 2016, launching a fierce war on drugs that left thousands dead.

However, critics have said that Duterte’s win was facilitated by a wave of false information online and warn that the situation heading into this week’s election could be worse.

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, the editor of the Rappler news website in the Philippines, said that a victory for misinformation in her country would be a harbinger of things to come for elections around the world.

“If we fall, this isn’t going to be the Philippines alone,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

The elder Marcos ruled under martial law for nearly a decade, from 1972 to 1981, and then fled to Hawaii in 1986 amid surging opposition protests spurred by an economic collapse and the assassination of his chief rival.

Activists say thousands of people were killed, tortured or imprisoned for criticizing the Marcos government. And according to some estimates, the family stole up to $10 billion from the Philippines central bank while in power.

The family returned from exile and to the Philippines political scene in the 1990s.

Tags Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Leni Robredo Maria Ressa Philippines election Rodrigo Duterte

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