05/07/2016, 15.40
PHILIPPINES
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Filipino elections: candidates ponder unity to stop “new dictator”

At 33 per cent, Rodrigo Duterte is leading the pack. The controversial leader has pursued a tough-on-crime campaign. Outgoing President Aquino calls on other candidates to unite to get a majority, or else risk going back to “Marcos-style martial law”.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Outgoing President Benigno Aquino has made his last pitch before Monday’s vote to stop frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte, seen by many as a new would-be dictator.

President Aquino, who cannot run again, has called on the other candidates, Grace Poe, Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay and Miriam Santiago, to join forces to beat Duterte.

“We won’t be able to run if we make a U-turn back to a martial-law style,” Aquino said. “We will go back to a Marcos-style martial law* where he will monopolise the decision making.”

More than 54 million people are registered to vote. The president is elected by direct vote. Whoever gets most votes wins.

According to the latest poll released yesterday, Duterte has 33 per cent support, with Senator Grace Poe next at 22 per cent, and Aquino’s pick Mar Roxas at 20 per cent. Binay and Santiago are far back.

 “The whole point is to get even two of them to unite . . . then we have more than 40 per cent,” Aquino said in plea.

The outgoing president said he had talked to Roxas, and contacted Poe to try and get them to forge an 11th-hour partnership.

Poe said on Thursday she had no intention of pulling out. For his part, Roxas called for unity, decency and democracy.

Rodrigo Duterte, of the PDP-Laban party**, is the mayor of Davao City (southern Mindanao), which he claims to have turned into Asia’s safest city, far different from what it used to be.

Known for his zero-tolerance policies against criminals, he has eliminated crime, imposed a curfew on young people, and defended a shoot-first policy for law enforcement.

The 71-year-old claims that he can restore law and order and impose security throughout the country, but many fear that he will use his power to impose a new dictatorship.

Allegations have been made that he oversaw vigilante death squads that killed more than a thousand suspects without due process.

For weeks, the Catholic Church has called on the faithful to recite the rosary daily for the election’s success.

The Bishops' Conference said that it hopes that the vote would be a “public witness of faith” and that Catholics would choose candidates who share the same values as those espoused by catholic doctrine.

*Ferdinand Marcos was president of the Philippines between 1965 and 1986. In 1972, he imposed martial law and ruled with an iron fist.

** Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (Filipino Democratic Party-People's Power).

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