Filipinos Head to Poll Amid Reports of Violence

Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte is known for his cursing and for being a womanizer. However, he has numerous achievements that many people are not aware of.
Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte is known for his cursing and for being a womanizer. However, he has numerous achievements that many people are not aware of.

Manila, 01 Sya’ban 1437/09 May 2016 (MINA) – Millions of Filipinos voted Monday, as a tough-talking mayor was the front-runner for the post of president, and amid reports of sporadic violence.

At least 12 people were killed in the hours after the polls opened at 6 am (2200 Sunday GMT), including seven campaign volunteers just south of Manila, and four people in several attacks in the conflict-wracked southern region of Mindanao, according to police.

Unidentified men burned down a school designated as a polling centre in Lanao del Norte prove, while in a town of nearby Maguindanao, gunmen forced their way into another school and made off with 10 vote-counting machines before the polls opened.

More than half of the predominantly Catholic country’s estimated population of 100 million – or 54 million people – are registered to vote.

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They will have until 5 pm (0900 GMT) to choose among five presidential candidates on the ballots.

 

Fear of the rise of dictatorship

The outspoken mayor of Danao, Rodrigo Duterte, is leading in polls, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported, qoting DPA.

He has raised eyebrows for cursing, physical threats against criminals, threatening to dissolve parliament to avoid impeachment for any human rights violations, and making off-colour jokes about the rape of an Australian missionary who died in a 1989 prison riot.

But his anti-crime stance has struck a chord amid public dissatisfaction over slow progress in the administration to combat poverty, crime and corruption despite rapid economic growth.

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Administration candidate Mar Roxas and first-time Senator Grace Poe are in a statistical tie at second place, while Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Miriam Santiago are trailing behind.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino, who has been credited for the economic boost, called for peaceful and credible elections.

“In a democracy, everyone makes a decision,” he said. “In the end, after the elections, may the bickering end.”

Aquino earlier called on rivals of Duterte to work together to defeat him amid fears his administration would turn into a dictatorship, some 30 years after late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted.

The dictator’s only son and namesake, popularly called by his nickname “Bongbong,” is tied with administration candidate Congresswoman Leni Robredo in the vice presidential race, according to surveys.

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Duterte has vowed to eradicate crime and corruption within six months of his presidency under a government of “courage and compassion.” He has also promised action against problems that affect ordinary citizens such as traffic, slow internet and poor public transport.

The 71-year-old mayor of more than 20 years has also promised to end unfair business practices against workers’ welfare, and to push for a more federal structure of government.

Analysts suggested some level of federalised autonomy could go some way to resolving the decades-old Muslim insurgency in the southern region of Mindanao. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)