Philippines: Law and Order Populist Promising ‘Bloody’ Presidency Leads Election

AP / Aaron Favila
AP / Aaron Favila

With 70 percent of votes tallied, Rodrigo Duterte – a populist candidate running on a zero tolerance anti-crime platform – is five million votes ahead of his closest competitor and expected to ultimately win the presidency of the Philippines.

The Philippine Star reports that, as of 10:24 p.m. local time, Duterte has received more than 12 million votes. The candidate in second place, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, has received nearly seven million votes. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is stuck in a much tighter race for vice president, only one million votes ahead of Leni Robredo. Marcos is the son of a former Philippine president and Roxas, the grandson of one. The election is set to replace current President Benigno Aquino, whose mother was also president. Duterte, who has ties to Philippine senators but is not directly related to any former presidents, is something of an exception in modern Philippine politics.

Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced Monday that they are expecting a “record-breaking” turnout once all the votes are counted, with the chairman of the agency giving the credit to a heated contest among the many candidates. On Monday evening local time, Rappler reported that more than 80 percent of eligible Philippine voters had gone to the polls.

It has also been a violent election, according to the monitor group Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE). LENTE tells the Philippine Star that they have documented “more than 230 cases of election-related offenses” at ballot centers and outside rallies on Monday. At least one “shooting incident” resulted in the deaths of seven. “Other incidents include attacks on polling precincts, threats and intimidation of voters, vote buying, and distribution of sample ballots,” the Star adds.

The government of the Philippines has banned the sale, purchase, and consumption of alcohol between Sunday, May 8 and Tuesday, May 10 to diminish the chances of violent incidents related to the election. So far, 19 people have been arrested for violating the ban.

Among candidate sparring – a major draw for voters this year – Duterte has largely been the focus of the most contentious incidents in the campaign. A 22-year mayor of southern Davao City, his term is credited with making the city a safe tourist destination on the island of Mindanao, home to some of the nation’s most dangerous drug gangs and jihadist groups. His message to criminals has been simple: “I will kill you.” He has vowed pardons for police who engage in extrajudicial killings and a “bloody” term for violent criminals who refuse to adopt a legitimate career.

He has also promised never to self-censor, a move that caused significant commotion during the campaign when he described a gang rape victim as “so beautiful” that he wished he would have been able to have sex with her before the rape. Upon being condemned by the ambassadors of Australia – where the woman in question was from – and the United States, Duterte threatened to cut diplomatic ties with both. He has said he will “never apologize” for the remark because he spoke out of just anger against the crime in question.

Regarding the current military dispute between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea – in which Manila relies heavily on the United States for support – Duterte has said he will personally “jet ski” to the disputed territories and plant a Philippine flag there.

The Duterte voters on Monday night struck a much more conciliatory tone than Campaign Duterte.

“I would like to address myself to my opponents. These past few days have been quite virulent for all of us – the black propaganda and false accusations. Let us begin the healing now,” he said at a press conference Monday. “Let’s begin to forget and start healing. I would like to reach the hands of my opponents. Let us be friends. Forget about the travails of elections.” He clarified that his offer was for “everybody without exception.”

He appeared optimistic about the results of the election, telling the outlet Rappler that he is “hopeful,” adding: “I pray to God. If he wants me there, I will accept it. If God does not want me there, I will accept it, I will retire from public life.”


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