In this image from video posted on the Bongbong Marcos Facebook page, presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issues a statement to the media on Monday, May 9, 2022 in Manila, Philippines. The namesake son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appeared to have been elected Philippine president by a landslide in an astonishing reversal of the 1986 “People Power” pro-democracy revolt that booted his father into global infamy. (Bongbong Marcos Facebook page via AP)
10 May 2022

Ferdinand Marcos Jr has won Philippine presidency, unofficial count shows

10 May 2022

The namesake son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appears to have been elected president by a landslide in an astonishing reversal of the 1986 “People Power” pro-democracy revolt that ousted his father.

Mr Marcos Jr had more than 30.8 million votes in unofficial results with more than 97% of votes tabulated.

His nearest challenger, vice president Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights, had 14.7 million votes in Monday’s election, and boxing great Manny Pacquiao appeared to have the third highest total with 3.5 million.

Leni Robredo (Office of the Vice President/AP) (AP)

Mr Marcos Jr’s running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte and the mayor of southern Davao city, had a formidable lead in the separate vice presidential race.

The alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders combined the voting power of their families’ political strongholds in the north and south but compounded worries of human rights activists.

Dozens of anti-Marcos protesters rallied at the Commission on Elections, blaming the agency for the breakdown of vote-counting machines and other issues that prevented people from casting votes. Election officials said the impact of the malfunctioning machines was minimal.

“A possible win based on a campaign built on blatant lies, historical distortions and mass deception is tantamount to cheating your way to victory,” said the group Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, or CARMMA. “This is not acceptable.”

Etta Rosales, a former Commission on Human Rights chairwoman, who was twice arrested and tortured under martial law in the 1970s, said Mr Marcos Jr’s apparent victory drove her to tears but would not stop her from continuing efforts to hold the family to account.

“I’m just one among the many who were tortured; others were killed, I was raped. We suffered under the Marcos regime in the fight for justice and freedom and this happens,” she said.

Mr Marcos Jr and Ms Duterte avoided volatile issues during their campaign and stuck to a battle cry of national unity, even though their fathers’ presidencies opened some of the most turbulent divisions in the country’s history.

Sara Duterte (Aaron Favila/AP) (AP)

Mr Marcos Jr has not claimed victory but thanked his supporters in a late-night “address to the nation” in which he urged them to stay vigilant until the vote count is completed.

“If we’ll be fortunate, I’ll expect that your help will not wane, your trust will not wane because we have a lot of things to do in the times ahead,” he said.

The election winner will take office on June 30 for a single, six-year term as leader of a south-east Asian nation hit hard by two years of Covid-19 outbreaks and lockdowns and long-troubled by crushing poverty, gaping inequalities, Muslim and communist insurgencies and deep political divisions.

The next president is also likely to face demands to prosecute outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte for thousands of killings during his anti-drug crackdown — deaths already under investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International said it was deeply concerned by the two winners’ avoidance of discussing human rights violations, past and present, in the Philippines.

“If confirmed, the Marcos Jr administration will face a wide array of urgent human rights challenges,” the rights group said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch also called for Mr Marcos Jr, if he takes office, to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines.

The 64-year-old former provincial governor, congressman and senator has defended the legacy of his father and steadfastly refused to acknowledge and apologise for the massive human rights violations and plunder under his father’s rule.

After his removal by the largely peaceful 1986 uprising, the elder Marcos died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii without admitting any wrongdoing, including accusations that he, his family and cronies amassed an estimated 5 billion to 10 billion dollars while he was in power.

A Hawaii court later found him liable for human rights violations and awarded 2 billion dollars from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who filed a lawsuit 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 worked on a stunning political comeback, helped by a well-funded social media campaign to restore the family name.

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