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Philippines election: Protests erupt as Marcos is set for landslide win

Supporters of Philippine presidential candidate Leni Robredo protest in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines, on May 10, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the election headquarters in the Philippines' capital Manila on Tuesday, rejecting what looks like a landslide victory of Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Protesters claimed that the polls, which give Marcos a massive lead of over 16 million votes over his closest rival Vice President Leni Robredo, were marked by fraud and irregularities.

In what appears to be a decisive win for Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the former dictator who was ousted in 1986 through a popular uprising, many have cast doubt on the transmission speed of votes as well as the malfunction of vote-counting machines on the election day.

His victory will catapult the Macros family back to power after a gap of 36 years.

Chanting slogans against Marcos Jr, the protesters surrounded the front of the election headquarters, with police being the only barriers from them charging further forward, reports said.

“The conclusion of these elections is simple. This is the worst. This is the most rotten. And this is the most shameless when it comes to cheating,” a protester, Danilo Arao, was quoted as saying by Philstar.

As of 11:17 a.m. local time Tuesday, Marcos was leading the race in the partial, unofficial results with 30,790,621 votes. Robredo trailed behind with 14,694,836 votes, the Philstar report said.

While official results are expected in one month, Marco's runaway victory with 95% of the eligible ballots counted shows a runaway victory for the son and namesake of the Philippines’ late dictator.

In the race for vice president, Marcos’ running mate, Sara Duterte, was leading with 31,202,591 followed by Robredo’s running mate, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, with 9,151,555.

Marcos’ running mate is the daughter of the country’s populist president Rodrigo Duterte, known for his bloody war on drugs and brutal crackdown on the media

Opinion polls had earlier suggested that Marcos Jr was poised to win against Robredo. They previously faced off in the vice presidential race in 2016 when Marcos lost to Robredo.

Marcos Jr is the son and namesake of his father who ruled the Philippines as a dictator until he was forced into exile in a popular uprising in 1986.

Robredo is a human rights lawyer and liberal legislator who has spearheaded campaigns against drug violence and gender inequality in the country.

During the election campaign, Marcos Jr spoke of “unity” while hailing his late father’s “genius” leadership. Robredo, on the other hand, promised a more transparent government and a return to democracy.

Marcos Jr refused to break into celebrations on Tuesday, apparently stung by growing protests.

"There are thousands of you out there, volunteers, parallel groups, political leaders that have cast their lot with us because of our belief in our message of unity," he said in remarks streamed on Facebook.

"Any endeavor as large as this does not involve one person; it involves very, very many people working in very, very many different ways."

Robredo supporters, meanwhile, said the Marcos family used social media to rebuild their shameful historical narratives for political purposes.

Human rights group Karapatan also refused to accept the election result and said his victory was built on lies and disinformation "to deodorize the Marcos' detestable image".

This year’s election has been described as the most significant in the country’s recent history by analysts as it could result in democratic backsliding or liberal reforms.

On Monday, the voting process was marred by violence after three people were killed in a deadly shooting incident in the restive Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines.

Another shooting incident was reported on Monday morning in Sumisip town in Basilan province. No casualties were reported in the incident.

It came after five grenades exploded outside a polling station in Datu Unsay municipality late on Sunday, leaving at least nine people wounded, police said.

Elections have traditionally been a volatile time in the Philippines with sloppy gun laws and violent political culture, according to experts.

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