More than 70 percent of the Philippines presidential election ballots have been counted, with Ferdinand Marcos Jr holding a wide lead, as per unofficial results shown by the election body. The poll body’s live unofficial count, on Monday, showed Marcos Jr with more than 23.5 million votes, far ahead of his closest competitor, current vice president Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights.
In the event of a victory, the Marcos family may once again be able to rule the Philippines, 36 years after its patriarch was overthrown in a “people power” revolution, forcing his family into exile. The score closely reflects the recent opinion polls that showed Marcos, a former senator and congressman, holding a huge advantage over Robredo, a supporter of the movement that overthrew the Marcos regime in 1986.
Over 67 million people registered to vote in the country, which closed its polls at 7 pm (11:00 GMT) yesterday. Early on Monday, Elections Commissioner George Garcia told reporters that he expects a record turnout.
“It’s a historic election, a very memorable one, simply because we’d be electing, at least in a pandemic situation, a new president and that’s why we’re expecting a high turnout of voters,” he said before voting began.
The polls officially closed at 7 pm, but election officials said that those who waited in line could still vote afterwards. Reports on social media suggest that there may have been delays and discrepancies during the election. Moreover, the voters voted not just to elect the president of the Philippines, but also the vice-president, senators and lower house representatives, including thousands of lower-ranking officials all over the 7,600 islands that make up the archipelago.
Main Contenders In The Fray
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is the frontrunner for the presidency. His father ruled the country brutally for more than 20 years until 1986, during which he controlled the country’s courts, businesses, and media, and imposed martial law in 1972 . Marcos Jr., who has served in the family stronghold of Ilocos Norte as vice governor, governor, and congressman, is attempting to undo his father’s legacy.
During Ferdinand Marcos’ presidency, thousands of dissidents and political opponents were detained and tortured by the army and police. Marcos, his wife Imelda (known for her taste of expensive luxury clothes), and their associates, stole an estimated $10 billion (£8.1 billion) from the public purse. In the People’s Power Revolution of 1986, he was thrown out due to public outrage over his reign, and he died soon after.
Marcos Jr utilised his family’s riches and connections to continue with his political aspirations after his family’s return from exile in the 1990s, becoming a provincial governor, congressman, and senator. He is running on a “unity” ticket in the 2022 election, promising to create jobs and lower inflation. He also intends to expand agricultural and infrastructural investment. His running mate for vice president is Sara Duterte Carpio, the incumbent president’s daughter, since he has formed a political alliance with the country’s three other major political families, the Arroyos, the Estradas, and the Dutertes. It is expected that “Bongbong”, if he wins, will pursue infrastructure projects with China.
The vote was also an opportunity for Marcos Jr to avenge his loss to Robredo in the 2016 vice-presidential election, which he unsuccessfully attempted to annul. He has given no substantive policy agenda, but his presidency is likely to provide continuity with outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose harsh manner proved popular and aided his swift consolidation of power. Duterte’s administration has been chastised for its violence in combating drugs and crime, although it has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Critics also claim that democratic institutions have been under attack under his administration, citing the shutdown of the Philippines’ broadcaster ABS-CBN, a station that, like some other independent media outlets, has previously irritated Duterte.
The current vice president of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, a former lawyer and human rights activist who belongs to the Liberal Party, comes the closest to defeating Bongbong. Her campaign slogan is “Honest governance, a better life for all”, and she has pledged to fight corruption. Her most recent campaign rallies have been tremendous, especially among the young “Pink Shirt” supporters who have assisted her door to door efforts. Robredo has promised to stand strong with Beijing.
Surveys show that other contestants all trail behind Marcos Jr and Robredo. Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, a national hero, has also promised to combat corruption and poverty, along with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who has promised to increase infrastructure expenditures and impose a more aggressive policy toward China.
Pressing Electoral Concerns
The issue of human rights is among the most important issues at stake in this election. According to Amnesty International, it is set to be one of the most significant elections in recent history, which will hopefully pave the way for a different approach to human rights.
There is a deep social divide in the Philippines, between the rich and the poor. Data provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that more than 25 million Filipinos live in poverty, with an average income of $3,300 (£2,445). Thus, it is essential to revitalise the economy of the country and eliminate corruption from public offices.
In addition to China’s growing strategic presence in the seas around the Philippines, where it has built military bases, China’s foreign policy actions are also concerning. The 2022 election has been dubbed a “social media election”, as was the 2016 election. According to observers, social media misinformation is a persistent issue that may influence the outcome of the election. It is not surprising, then, that Filipino internet users spend almost four hours a day on social media. Over 90 percent of Filipinos with internet access use Meta (erstwhile Facebook) and YouTube, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
More than 80 percent of the population is on Meta, while around 85 percent watches YouTube. Disinformation is spreading like wildfire on these platforms, including TikTok, where Robredo has been labelled as a communist and a bad administrator. Meanwhile, the terrible era of Bongbong’s father is being rewritten as one of strong economic growth and construction projects, confusing voters further.
Many people make their choices based more on personality than on policy, although vote-buying and intimidation are perennial challenges as well.