Philippines presidential election: Inside the manic race to replace Duterte

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

Richard Heydarian, professor of historical past and political science on the Philippines’ Polytechnic College, says there isn’t a clear frontrunner. “It’ll be extremely, extremely aggressive,” he added.

The Philippines has just one spherical of voting, not like many nations resembling France, the place there’s a second poll between the 2 hottest candidates. Which means that whoever is in entrance on the finish of counting will turn into president — regardless of how small their complete share of votes.

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

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 possible come beneath rising financial and geopolitical stress, notably as a claimant to a part of the South China Sea.

Throughout his time in workplace, Duterte aligned the Philippines nearer to Beijing, publicly stating his “love” for President Xi Jinping because the leaders explored the possibility of joint resource contracts within 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, according to police.
And there are indicators he will not be prepared to let his affect go so simply. After accepting his celebration’s candidacy for vp, Duterte introduced final week he would 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 in its place candidate.

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

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

“We’re on the fringe of a cliff … whoever wins will decide whether or not we’ll have rule of legislation, whether or not our economic system can develop, whether or not we are able to survive the virus, whether or not our society can heal,” she stated.

The dictator’s son

In a put up to his official Facebook page on Tuesday, the son of the person accused of imprisoning, torturing and impoverishing the Filipino folks requested his supporters to affix him in “the noblest of causes.”

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

The date of his announcement was inauspicious — it got here simply after the 49th 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 decades earlier than he was deposed by a well-liked protest in 1986.
The Marcos household profited enormously from its time in energy, with some specialists estimating a internet acquire of more than $10 billion in the course of the patriarch’s dictatorship. Marcos Jr. has claimed most of the allegations towards his household are slanderous.
However human rights teams within the Philippines are horrified on the prospect of a member of the Marcos household working for the nation’s highest place. Protesters rallied outdoors the Fee on Human Rights constructing in Manila on Wednesday to indicate their disgust.
Philippines rights groups decry presidential bid of late dictator's son

“The Marcoses stay scot-free from jail, they have not returned all the cash that they obtained from the nation’s coffers, and now they’re making a comeback for the best place within the land. That’s simply plain, shameless gall,” Cristina Palabay of rights group Karapatan advised Reuters.

Duterte has not been ashamed to tie himself to the Marcos household. There have been even ideas he would possibly be part of Marcos Jr.’s ticket as candidate for vp. “That is the plan!” Marcos Jr. stated Wednesday, in accordance with ABS-CBN.

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

Heydarian added the Marcos household had “grassroots assist, sources and message self-discipline,” however their historical past wouldn’t play properly with a inhabitants involved about corruption.

“The difficulty of corruption could be very, very delicate for lots of people,” he stated.

The boxer

Pacquiao’s ability as a boxer is unquestionable. After a 26-year profession, he’s thought of one of many biggest boxers of all time, the one man to carry world titles in eight totally different divisions.

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

Extremely charismatic and proudly Christian, Pacquiao was first elected to the Philippines senate in 2016, saying he wished to assist the nation’s underprivileged. Pacquiao has stated he lived in extreme 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.

However Heydarian stated since he joined the senate, Pacquiao’s time in workplace has been underwhelming. “He is getting into this race as somebody whose mantle of statesmanship continues to be beneath query. He did not have essentially the most spectacular efficiency as senator,” he added.

Slightly than working for vp first, to indicate he was critical concerning the function, Pacquiao has jumped straight to the highest job — and Heydarian stated that could be a bit “early” for folks. Nonetheless, his reputation with the nation’s poor may make him a contender.

Duterte has beforehand stated he sees Pacquiao as a potential successor, somebody to face for president together with his blessing in 2022. However relations between the 2 males have soured — Pacquiao has publicly questioned Duterte’s attitude to China and accused his administration of misplacing $200 million in pandemic support for the Philippines’ poor.
Pacquiao additionally has critics on the opposite facet of the political divide, Ressa stated. The boxer has continuously made controversial statements about LGBTQ rights and abortion. In 2016, whereas working for the senate, Pacquiao stated homosexual folks have been “worse than animals.”

Ressa stated the Philippines will want pressing motion to recuperate 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 turn into president subsequent can have actual issues to take care of, and they will must have competent folks to take care of it,” she stated.

The actor

Pacquiao is not the one rags-to-riches story of the 2022 marketing campaign — nor the one 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 stated he grew up within the metropolis’s slums the place he made a residing by collecting trash to be resold.
He rose to prominence as an actor within the Nineteen Nineties showing in “bomba” films, a kind of softcore erotic film made within 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 actual fact, Moreno’s actual identify is Francisco Domagoso — Isko Moreno is his stage identify.

Utilizing his popularity 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.

Simply two years after his win, he’s aiming to steer your entire nation. Like Duterte, Moreno is a populist, Heydarian stated, however certainly one of a distinct stripe.

“(He) represents what I name ‘well mannered populism’: cost-free, household oriented, even pious type of rhetoric,” he stated, including that Moreno trumpets centrist and even at occasions progressive insurance policies.

The Vice President

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

Within the Philippines, presidents and vice presidents are elected individually and might even be from totally 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 called “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 federal government’s anti-drug company for lower than three weeks earlier than firing her for establishing meetings with international agencies.
She has additionally been honored for her work advocating for gender equality and women’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 comply with her and assist “guarantee a way forward for equal alternatives.”

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

Nevertheless he stated the Vice President had a large community of supporters throughout the nation from her time in workplace. “We noticed within the 2016 (Vice Presidential) election she was capable of flip issues round towards all odds and towards a really aggressive candidate,” Heydarian added.

The shadow of Duterte

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

He stated the preferred contender is Duterte-Carpio, Duterte’s daughter.

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

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

That is precisely what her father did in 2016.

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

However critics have seen her potential candidacy for president as one other means for Duterte to carry sway over the Philippines after he leaves energy.

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

Whoever finally ends up taking energy within the Philippines, Ressa stated they are going to inherit a rustic “in a far worse place” than Duterte did.

“The legacy of Duterte is the breakdown of the totally different branches of presidency and the corruption of the totally different weak establishments,” she stated.

“We have been simply on the level the place our establishments have been beginning to solidify … the final 5 years have actually taken these desires and dashed them.”

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