MANILA, Philippines ( Associated Press) — Filipinos stood in long lines Monday to elect their new president, with the son of a ousted dictator and a human rights defender the most prominent contenders during a time of precariousness in a deeply entrenched Asian democracy. divided.
According to pre-election polls, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the strongman who was ousted in 1986 following an army-backed “People Power” uprising, had a seemingly insurmountable lead. However, his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, has seized on the shock and outrage at the prospect of a Marcos coming to power and gained ground thanks to a network of campaign volunteers to back his candidacy.
There are eight other candidates in the presidential race, including former boxer Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former national police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson.
The winner of the election will take office on June 30 for a single six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hit hard by two years of COVID-19 pandemic outbreaks and lockdowns.
Voters arrived early at polling stations to form long lines in most parts of the country. The start of voting was delayed by a few hours in some parts due to voting machine malfunctions, power outages, bad weather and other problems.
Thousands of police and military have been deployed to protect polling stations, especially in rural areas with a history of violent political rivalry and where communist and Muslim rebels are active.
In Maguindanao province, a security hotspot in the south, gunmen killed three village guards outside a polling station in the city of Buluán, briefly disrupting voting. In a separate incident on Sunday night, nine voters and their supporters were injured when unidentified men fired five grenades at Datu Unsay town hall, police said.