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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 identify by way of an elaborate historic revisionism marketing campaign on social media.

The following Philippine president will succeed the tough-talking populist Rodrigo Duterte, whose conflict on medication left 1000’s lifeless, 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 interchange Philippines’ Duterte is a wild contest of characters

Marcos and his operating mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Davao Metropolis mayor and daughter of the incumbent president, get pleasure from a major lead over their opponents, based on 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 might not be as brutal as his father’s dictatorship and even Duterte’s time period, however it’s anticipated to finish the whitewashing of the household fame and defend it from accountability. Between $5-to-10 billion was estimated stolen from public coffers through 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 girl 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 could have been retrieved a very long time in the past,” mentioned Jesse James Pangilinan, 24, a Manila resident who solid a vote for Marcos and Duterte on Monday morning. He mentioned he believed the considerations concerning the Marcos property’s unpaid taxes however dismissed them as a result of “they’re not being compelled 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. In addition 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 gained a case,” Mapili added, echoing a preferred, Web-fueled idea to elucidate 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 also be anticipated to protect the outgoing Duterte from potential prosecution on the Worldwide Legal Court docket for crimes towards humanity throughout his drug conflict, which left 1000’s lifeless in extrajudicial killings.

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

The Fee on Elections informed voters they may depart their ballots behind, however many are placing up with the look ahead to worry of tampering, and to make sure their votes are fed into the machine. The phrase “don’t depart your poll” trended on Twitter.

Marcos’s foremost challenger is impartial candidate Robredo, a vocal critic of Marcos and the elder Duterte — although 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 might be a a lot nearer combat, 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 one million.

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 girls, 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 following 5 years contesting the choice till the Supreme Court docket, performing 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 will not 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 instances towards Marcos regarding a earlier conviction for being unable to file earnings tax returns.

This has raised concern about whether or not the Philippines will be capable of have a clear election, on prime 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 widespread occurrences in a rustic lengthy characterised by patronage politics dominated by just a few households.

The Marcos-Duterte tandem is a political marriage of two of essentially the most highly effective dynasties within the nation. Specialists preserve that this method, during which households and personalities dominate politics, is carefully 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 might 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 could turn out to be a serious power within the opposition.

“If it’s a Robredo presidency, this shall be a motion that could 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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