MANILA, Philippines – Newly retired boxing star Manny Pacquiao filed his certificate of candidacy for the Philippine presidency on Friday, as registration opened for candidates aspiring to lead the Southeast Asian nation, which has been battered by the pandemic and deep political conflicts. have been badly affected.
Election officials imposed heavy restrictions on the October 1-8 registration period to prevent them from drawing huge crowds of political supporters and becoming a hotbed for COVID-19 infections. In addition to the president and vice president, more than 18,000 national, local and congressional positions will be contested in the election on May 9, 2022.
The Philippines, considered the Asian bastion of democracy, has also seen electoral devastation and violence. In 2009, gunmen deployed by the family of the then governor of Maguindanao province killed 58 people, including journalists, in an attack on an election convoy that shocked the world.
About 3,000 police officers, including some patrolling in armored police vans, were deployed around the seaside convention complex in Manila where presidential candidates were expected to register. The area was declared a no-fly and no-fishing zone.
Aspirants can bring only three accomplices who had to undergo COVID-19 swab test while registering their candidature to prevent the chaotic scenes past chaotic scenes of candidates with movie stars, music bands and rowdy crowds of followers.
“We actually went to great lengths to make sure the filing would be cool,” said Electoral Commission spokesman James Jimenez.
Still, hundreds of fans and supporters in face masks and holding portraits of Pacquiao and small Philippine flags stood in the street as Manila Bay cheered their convoy to the heavily guarded election registration center.
Many expect the race to succeed controversial President Rodrigo Duterte to be crowded and politically hostile. Pacquiao, former National Police Chief Panfilo Laxón, and Manila Mayor Isco Moreno have announced they will seek the presidency, and others are expected.
Pacquiao and Duterte were firm allies until they were well campaigned as election season this year. Both and his camp fought for control of the ruling party, and Duterte threatened to campaign against Pacquiao if the boxing legend could not substantiate his remarks that corruption had worsened under the current administration.
“Those who take advantage of the nation, steal, plunder the Filipino nation, your happy days of taking advantage in government are already numbered because if God keeps me there, I promise not only to the Filipino people I do, but also make my promise. God, that all of them will be put in jail,” Pacquiao told reporters after registering his candidacy.
The 42-year-old senator announced his retirement from boxing on Wednesday.
Duterte, 76, has accepted the ruling party’s nomination for vice president in a move that sparked a constitutional debate and shocked opponents who have long condemned him as a human rights disaster. .
The Philippine president is constitutionally limited to a single, six-year term, and a constitutional expert has said he would question Duterte’s candidacy before the Supreme Court because a successful vice-presidency would allow him to re-open a phase of office. will put it inside.
Western governments led by the United States and human rights activists have long raised alarm over Duterte’s police-enforced crackdown on illegal drugs, which has killed more than 6,000 mostly petty drug suspects since taking office in mid-2016 Huh. The International Criminal Court is investigating the murders.
Although Duterte remains popular based on opinion polls, drug killings as well as his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the worst economic downturn and widespread unemployment and hunger, are expected to be key issues in the polls.
Activists have long compared Duterte to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in 1986 in a military-backed “people power” rebellion that became a harbinger of a shift to authoritarian regimes around the world. Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a son of Marcos and namesake is expected to run for the presidency and has found good support in independent opinion polls.
“The stakes are high for Philippine democracy,” said Manila-based analyst Julio Tehanki, adding the candidate who could provide a clear and workable roadmap to get the country out of the pandemic and economic shock would be a significant edge.
The Philippines has reported more than 2.5 million COVID-19 cases, with 38,164 deaths taking the pandemic toll, the second worst pandemic toll in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.
by Aaron Favila and Joel Calupitana
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times