10/09/2021, 12.36
PHILIPPINES
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Manila: Who are the candidates for the presidential election?

President Duterte's daughter Sara is not in the running, but there is time until 15 November for a replacement. Leni Robredo is the only candidate representing a real opposition. The son of dictator Marcos will also run for the Malacañan Palace. Experts: the campaign will focus on the effects of the pandemic; the Philippines still ranks second in Southeast Asia for new cases.

 

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The deadline to present nominations for the Philippies presidential elections scheduled for May next year was yesterday.  Sara Duterte, daughter of the current Philippine president is not on the list. But the mayor of Davao may still have a chance: according to the rules laid down by the Commission on Elections, a candidate can be replaced by a member of the same party until 15 November. 

Yesterday, Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa filed his nomination and reporters asked him if he will give up his seat to Duterte's daughter: “So much the better. But this is a party decision. This is not my personal decision. If I were to decide, if they allow me to run, I will run.”

Sara Duterte does not seem convinced that she wants to represent the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (Pdp-Laban) in the upcoming presidential election, as she has repeatedly reiterated that she has already laid down her candidacy for a third and final term as mayor of Davao.

Dela Rosa, a former police officer who spearheaded the current government's ruthless "war on drugs", will run with Senator Christopher "Bong" Go as his deputy, although Go had initially announced his candidacy for president to allow Duterte Sr. to remain at the top of Philippine politics as second-in-command. This was before Duterte surprisingly announced his intention to leave politics at the end of his term.

Formally within the Pdp-Laban, but running with the Promdi, former boxer Manny Pacquiao was among the first to announce that he would run for the Malacañan Palace, the presidential residence.

In recent days, other illustrious names in Philippine politics have joined the ranks: Francisco 'Isko Moreno' Domagaso, mayor of the capital Manila; Leni Robredo, the current vice-president; and Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr, son of the dictator who has ruled the country since 1965. During the dictatorship, thousands of Filipinos were tortured and killed. Observers see this as an opportunity for Marcos to clear the name of his family, which fled to Hawaii in 1986 after stealing 10 billion from the state coffers. Some have noted that several fake news stories about the dictatorship period have started to circulate on social media, a sign of concern given the disinformation campaign carried out by Duterte in 2016 and thanks to which he managed to get elected.

Robredo, an opposition leader who eventually ran independently after attempting to form a union with other candidates, has often come into conflict with the current president in recent years not only over policies but also over Duterte's personal behaviour. According to analyst Victor Andreas Manhit, head of the think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, the lawyer presents herself as the only real alternative to Duterte, while the other candidates will fight for centrist votes "that are neither pro-Duterte nor pro-opposition".

Isko Moreno has positioned himself in continuity with the president's current policies, saying he wants to continue the "war on drugs", but without the killings. Panfilo Lacson, also a former police chief, was on the same wavelength, saying he wanted to fight corruption, crime and drugs, but promising to do things 'differently'.

Experts believe the election campaign will actually focus on dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Philippines continues to be the second largest country in Southeast Asia in terms of the number of new cases, and only 22% of the population has completed the vaccination cycle. Several lockdowns have taken place in the country since March 2020, slowing down economic activities.

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