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MANILA — Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lined up within the blazing solar on Monday to vote for a brand new president, with the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., trying poised to guide the nation his household as soon as plundered billions from.

The election is a check of reality and the reminiscence of historical past for about 65 million registered voters on this archipelago, the place the Marcos household has spent over a decade rehabilitating their title by means of an elaborate historic revisionism marketing campaign on social media.

The subsequent Philippine president will succeed the tough-talking populist Rodrigo Duterte, whose battle on medicine left 1000’s useless, and a rustic with an economic system and well being system ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Presidents serve solely a single six-year time period and are elected individually from the vice chairman.

Race to switch Philippines’ Duterte is a wild contest of characters

Marcos and his working mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Davao Metropolis mayor and daughter of the incumbent president, take pleasure in a big lead over their opponents, in keeping with the most recent polls. Different candidates for the highest place are Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, boxing celebrity Manny Pacquiao, former actor and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, and former senator and police chief Panfilo Lacson.

A Marcos presidency is probably not as brutal as his father’s dictatorship and even Duterte’s time period, however it’s anticipated to finish the whitewashing of the household repute and defend it from accountability. Between $5-to-10 billion was estimated stolen from public coffers throughout the household’s two-decade rule, and solely a fraction has been recovered. The household fled to Hawaii, the place they lived in exile, after the 1986 Individuals Energy revolution. They returned to the Philippines within the Nineteen Nineties.

The household continues to face a number of controversies, together with a graft conviction for Marcos’s mom, former first woman Imelda, and the property owing billions in tax liabilities. To this point, no family members have served jail time.

“If there actually was ill-gotten wealth, it will have been retrieved a very long time in the past,” mentioned Jesse James Pangilinan, 24, a Manila resident who forged a vote for Marcos and Duterte on Monday morning. He mentioned he believed the issues in regards to the Marcos property’s unpaid taxes however dismissed them as a result of “they’re not being pressured to pay it.”

Dante Mapili, 30, and Jonariza Estera, 37, additionally voted for Marcos, saying they believed in his message of unity and have been impressed by how he had not campaigned negatively. Additionally they don’t consider the household stole from authorities funds. “From what I do know, he was already wealthy,” mentioned Estera.

“I heard Marcos’s father was paid in gold if he received a case,” Mapili added, echoing a well-liked, Web-fueled principle to clarify the household’s wealth. A few of its adherents consider the Marcoses will distribute their very own fortune in the event that they return to energy.

If he wins, Marcos can be anticipated to defend the outgoing Duterte from doable prosecution on the Worldwide Prison Courtroom for crimes in opposition to humanity throughout his drug battle, which left 1000’s useless in extrajudicial killings.

Voting for probably the most half proceeded peacefully however in Manila there have been reviews of technical difficulties with the voting machines inflicting long delays that affected some 1.1 million votes, in keeping with election watchdog Kontra Daya.

The Fee on Elections advised voters they might go away their ballots behind, however many are placing up with the await concern of tampering, and to make sure their votes are fed into the machine. The phrase “don’t go away your poll” trended on Twitter.

Marcos’s predominant challenger is impartial candidate Robredo, a vocal critic of Marcos and the elder Duterte — though she was his vice chairman. She has been the prime goal of disinformation operations and lags behind Marcos by 33 factors.

Her supporters consider it may very well be a a lot nearer battle, because the groundswell of volunteers for her — which incorporates celebrities, church staff, farmers and college students — culminated in a star-studded closing rally on Saturday that drew a crowd of greater than 1,000,000.

Within the Philippines, grass-roots marketing campaign takes on the Marcos juggernaut

Donna Jolo, a 33-year-old constructing administrator, who attended that rally after which voted in Manila, mentioned she believed in Robredo’s concepts and platform and was offended on the on-line campaigns that she felt had slandered the candidate.

“I heard about how she helped individuals,” she mentioned, describing Robredo’s efforts for farmers. “Even with ladies, she helped with their livelihoods — she’s an economist and is aware of the reply to poverty.”

A public-interest lawyer and former congresswoman who notably waited in line to vote Monday in contrast to her opponent, she narrowly defeated Marcos for the vice presidency in 2016. He spent the subsequent 5 years contesting the choice till the Supreme Courtroom, appearing as election tribunal, unanimously dismissed his problem final yr.

In a sleekly edited video launched final week, Marcos stood on a podium and known as on his supporters to be vigilant. “Allow us to defend our resolution and never permit it to be stolen from us once more,” he mentioned.

Marcos is already crafting a story simply in case Robredo pulls off an upset, mentioned Julio Teehankee, a political scientist on the De La Salle College. However as a result of Marcos is the “de facto administration candidate … the opposition shouldn’t be in any place to cheat within the election,” he added.

How the Philippines’ brutal historical past is being whitewashed for voters

The officers on the Fee on Elections are all Duterte appointees, and the physique beforehand dismissed disqualification circumstances in opposition to Marcos referring to a earlier conviction for being unable to file earnings tax returns.

This has raised concern about whether or not the Philippines will have the ability to have a clear election, on high of the swirling mass of disinformation within the public sphere fueled by on-line armies of Marcos and Duterte supporters. Electoral violence and vote-buying are additionally frequent occurrences in a rustic lengthy characterised by patronage politics dominated by a couple of households.

The Marcos-Duterte tandem is a political marriage of two of probably the most highly effective dynasties within the nation. Consultants preserve that this method, through which households and personalities dominate politics, is intently linked to corruption and poverty, as authorities spending and coverage are related to private favors and never public obligations.

But when Philippine historical past is any indicator, Teehankee warned, one other corruption scandal may very well be “deadly to [Marcos’s] return to energy.” After the 1986 revolution, a second Individuals Energy rebellion in 2001 unseated then-President Joseph Estrada following corruption scandals hounding his time period.

If Robredo’s grass-roots marketing campaign is sustained after elections, it will grow to be a significant drive within the opposition.

“If it’s a Robredo presidency, this might be a motion that may be a accomplice,” mentioned Barry Gutierrez, her spokesman. If not, it may mark the beginnings of a brand new opposition indifferent from conventional events. “It’s an opposition I’m excited to see.”


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