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Philippines presidential election: Inside the manic race to replace Duterte

Although the 2022 presidential election marketing campaign is but to start, the machinations and drama are effectively underway.

Richard Heydarian, professor of historical past and political science at the Philippines’ Polytechnic University, says there is no such thing as a clear frontrunner. “It is going to be highly, highly competitive,” he added.

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The Philippines has just one spherical of voting, not like many nations comparable to France, the place there’s a second poll between the two hottest candidates. This signifies that whoever is in entrance at the finish of counting will turn out to be president — irrespective of how small their complete share of votes.

In a decent race, the prize may go to anybody. And the stakes are excessive.

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With China and the US more and more treating the Indo-Pacific as a staging floor for his or her international showdown, the Philippines will probably come beneath rising financial and geopolitical stress, notably as a claimant to a part of the South China Sea.

During his time in workplace, Duterte aligned the Philippines nearer to Beijing, publicly stating his “love” for President Xi Jinping as the leaders explored the risk of joint useful resource contracts in the South China Sea.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in Manila on July 26.
At house, he has cracked down on civil society and sparked a bloody warfare on medication that has claimed the lives of greater than 6,000 folks, in accordance to police.
And there are indicators he is probably not prepared to let his affect go so simply. After accepting his social gathering’s candidacy for vice chairman, Duterte introduced final week he can be retiring from politics. Critics have identified Duterte additionally introduced his retirement in 2015 earlier than he modified his thoughts and ran for president.

Not solely that, however his daughter — Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio — nonetheless has a month to resolve if she’ll run for president instead candidate.

Duterte has a private incentive to retain some management over the future authorities: he is going through an investigation by the International Criminal Court into his warfare on medication and his successor may affect how a lot entry they get to the Philippines.

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Journalist Maria Ressa, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner and president and chief govt of native media outlet Rappler, mentioned the 2022 elections have been “existential for democracy.”

“We’re at the edge of a cliff … whoever wins will determine whether we’ll have rule of law, whether our economy can grow, whether we can survive the virus, whether our society can heal,” she mentioned.

The dictator’s son

In a submit to his official Facebook web page on Tuesday, the son of the man accused of imprisoning, torturing and impoverishing the Filipino folks requested his supporters to be part of him in “the noblest of causes.”

Marcos Jr., recognized colloquially as “Bongbong,” introduced he would run for president in the 2022 election, pitching himself as a unifying candidate who may convey the nation collectively after the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The date of his announcement was inauspicious — it got here simply after the forty ninth anniversary of his father, Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, imposing martial legislation on the nation.
Former Philippine senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, speaks after filing his candidacy in Pasay on October 6.
Marcos dominated the nation with an iron fist for two-and-a-half many years earlier than he was deposed by a well-liked protest in 1986.
The Marcos household profited enormously from its time in energy, with some consultants estimating a web achieve of greater than $10 billion throughout the patriarch’s dictatorship. Marcos Jr. has claimed lots of the allegations in opposition to his household are slanderous.
But human rights teams in the Philippines are horrified at the prospect of a member of the Marcos household working for the nation’s highest place. Protesters rallied exterior the Commission on Human Rights constructing in Manila on Wednesday to present their disgust.
Philippines rights groups decry presidential bid of late dictator's son

“The Marcoses remain scot-free from jail, they haven’t returned all the money that they got from the nation’s coffers, and now they are making a comeback for the highest position in the land. That is just plain, shameless gall,” Cristina Palabay of rights group Karapatan informed Reuters.

Duterte has not been ashamed to tie himself to the Marcos household. There have been even options he may be part of Marcos Jr.’s ticket as candidate for vice chairman. “That’s the plan!” Marcos Jr. mentioned Wednesday, in accordance to ABS-CBN.

Ressa mentioned Duterte’s reputation in the south of the Philippines, mixed with Marcos’ reputation in the north, would create a formidable drive.

Heydarian added the Marcos household had “grassroots support, resources and message discipline,” however their historical past wouldn’t play effectively with a inhabitants involved about corruption.

“The issue of corruption is very, very sensitive for a lot of people,” he mentioned.

The boxer

Pacquiao’s talent as a boxer is unquestionable. After a 26-year profession, he’s thought of one in all the best boxers of all time, the solely man to maintain world titles in eight completely different divisions.

But the 42-year-old’s talent as a politician is much much less clear — and one thing he may have to show if he’s going to achieve success when he runs for president.

Highly charismatic and proudly Christian, Pacquiao was first elected to the Philippines senate in 2016, saying he needed to assist the nation’s underprivileged. Pacquiao has mentioned he lived in excessive poverty when he was younger, promoting sweet and cigarettes to make ends meet. As a teen he labored as a laborer to assist his household — now he’s a multimillionaire.
Retired Filipino boxing hero and senator Manny Pacquiao, center, talks to police beside wife Jinkee, left, before filing his certificate of candidacy on October 1 in Manila.

But Heydarian mentioned since he joined the senate, Pacquiao’s time in workplace has been underwhelming. “He’s entering this race as someone whose mantle of statesmanship is still under question. He didn’t have the most impressive performance as senator,” he added.

Rather than working for vice chairman first, to present he was critical about the position, Pacquiao has jumped straight to the prime job — and Heydarian mentioned that is likely to be a bit “early” for folks. Still, his reputation with the nation’s poor may make him a contender.

Duterte has beforehand mentioned he sees Pacquiao as a possible successor, somebody to stand for president along with his blessing in 2022. But relations between the two males have soured — Pacquiao has publicly questioned Duterte’s perspective to China and accused his administration of misplacing $200 million in pandemic assist for the Philippines’ poor.
Pacquiao additionally has critics on the different aspect of the political divide, Ressa mentioned. The boxer has incessantly made controversial statements about LGBTQ rights and abortion. In 2016, whereas working for the senate, Pacquiao mentioned homosexual folks have been “worse than animals.”

Ressa mentioned the Philippines will want pressing motion to get better from the Duterte years and the Covid-19 pandemic, and questioned whether or not Pacquiao had the political coalition or the governing expertise to make it occur.

“Whoever will become president next will have real problems to deal with, and they’re going to have to have competent people to deal with it,” she mentioned.

The actor

Pacquiao is not the solely rags-to-riches story of the 2022 marketing campaign — nor the solely star.

Manila Mayor Moreno, who filed his candidacy for president this week, has had a meteoric political rise over the previous three years. A local of Manila, he mentioned he grew up in the metropolis’s slums the place he made a residing by accumulating trash to be resold.
He rose to prominence as an actor in the Nineties showing in “bomba” movies, a kind of softcore erotic film made in the Philippines. Moreno typically performed the romantic lead.
Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, right, known by his screen name Isko Moreno, and his running mate for vice president Willie Ong in Manila on October 4.

In reality, Moreno’s actual identify is Francisco Domagoso — Isko Moreno is his stage identify.

Using his fame as a stepping stone, Moreno moved into politics in 1998 as a metropolis counselor in Manila earlier than being elected vice mayor in 2007, after which mayor in 2019.

Just two years after his win, he’s aiming to lead the whole nation. Like Duterte, Moreno is a populist, Heydarian mentioned, however one in all a distinct stripe.

“(He) represents what I call ‘polite populism’: cost-free, family orientated, even pious kind of rhetoric,” he mentioned, including that Moreno trumpets centrist and even at instances progressive insurance policies.

The Vice President

At the different finish of the spectrum from Marcos is incumbent Vice President Robredo.

In the Philippines, presidents and vice presidents are elected individually and might even be from completely different events. A human rights lawyer, Robredo has been a frequent critic of the Duterte administration and has fought publicly with the President over his warfare on medication, which she referred to as “senseless.”
Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo gestures after filing her candidacy to join the 2022 presidential race in Pasay, Metro Manila on October 7.
In 2019, Duterte appointed her as co-chair of the authorities’s anti-drug company for lower than three weeks earlier than firing her for establishing conferences with worldwide companies.
She has additionally been honored for her work advocating for gender equality and ladies’s rights.
Philippines says it will investigate more than 150 police officers over Duterte's deadly drugs war

Accompanied by her two daughters, Robredo on Thursday referred to as for the nation to observe her and assist “ensure a future of equal opportunities.”

Heydarian identified that Robredo is at present working fifth in the polls regardless of her nationwide fame — behind Marcos, Pacquiao and Moreno.

However he mentioned the Vice President had a large community of supporters throughout the nation from her time in workplace. “We saw in the 2016 (Vice Presidential) election she was able to turn things around against all odds and against a very competitive candidate,” Heydarian added.

The shadow of Duterte

While the nation’s consideration has largely been fastened on the candidates who’ve already declared, none of them are main latest polls, in accordance to Heydarian.

He mentioned the hottest contender is Duterte-Carpio, Duterte’s daughter.

As of Friday, Duterte-Carpio had not declared her candidacy however as an alternative has filed paperwork to run once more for Davao mayor. On Monday, her spokesman mentioned she had “no intention” of taking the management of her father’s social gathering.

Philippines President Duterte announces he's retiring from politics at the end of his term
But beneath the quirks of the Philippines election system, submitting for the mayoral election means she now has till November 15 to contemplate switching her marketing campaign from mayor to president beneath a substitution.

That’s precisely what her father did in 2016.

Heydarian mentioned Duterte-Carpio is not like the President in some ways — she welcomes the opinion of consultants and takes thought of selections, not like her impulsive father.

But critics have seen her potential candidacy for president as one other manner for Duterte to maintain sway over the Philippines after he leaves energy.

And that’s assuming her father does not change his thoughts about working for vice chairman. Ressa mentioned she does not belief Duterte’s assertion that he would retire from politics — he mentioned the similar factor in 2016 after which ran for the nation’s highest workplace.

Whoever finally ends up taking energy in the Philippines, Ressa mentioned they may inherit a rustic “in a far worse place” than Duterte did.

“The legacy of Duterte is the breakdown of the different branches of government and the corruption of the different weak institutions,” she mentioned.

“We were just at the point where our institutions were starting to solidify … the last five years have really taken those dreams and dashed them.”

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