05/09/2022, 18.55
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Violence and irregularities mar the Philippine presidential election

As predicted by pollsters, the first unofficial results give Ferdinand Marcos Jr a clear lead with almost 60 per cent of the vote. Voting did not go without hitches amid charges of fraud and malfunctioning voting machines, but this is not likely to affect the outcome, observers say.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Today’s elections in the Philippines did not go smoothly marred by accusations of fraud and irregularities as well as violence and malfunctioning vote-counting machines.

Despite it, most observers agree that any shortcomings will not substantially change the results of the presidential election, which should confirm a landslide victory by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

With two thirds of the ballots counted, the son of the late dictator, is in the lead with 59.66 per cent of the votes against 28.25 per cent for his main challenger, Leni Robredo.

More 67 million Filipinos were eligible to pick outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte's successor, the vice president, Members of the House of Representatives and half of the Senate, as well as thousands of provincial and local officials.

Voting closed at 7 pm (local time) even though in many places, long queues at many polling stations led to requests for an extension of the vote. About 170 vote-counting machines also failed to work this morning.

In addition to technical problems, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections reported various irregularities, including attempts to buy votes and other election-related offences.

On the island of Mindanao, at least two polling stations were attacked; three security guards were killed in Buluan while nine people were wounded in a grenade attack in in Datu Unsay.

The final outcome seems to confirm surveys conducted during the campaign, which gave Bongbong Marcos a wide lead, 56 per cent.

Outgoing Vice President Robredo, who was credited with 23 per cent of support in the surveys in late April, ran claiming to be the only possible alternative to the Marcos-Duterte ticket (Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing president, is favoured in the vice-presidential race).

Social media were full of pink-laced images and videos, the colour chosen by the opposition, as a sign of hope for Robredo to catch up. With the support of about two million volunteers going door-to-door, her campaign targeted especially the undecided.

The Marcos clan focused instead on spreading fake news on social media, portraying the period of Ferdinand Marcos Sr’s dictatorship as a “golden age”.

On Friday, Center for People Empowerment in Governance and the Shofar Analytics group presented the results of a survey carried out with a different methodology than the classic interview-based questionnaire.

Unlike direct interviews, anonymous polling removed the “fear factor” so that respondents might be truthful rather than afraid of retaliation or being denied ayuda, i.e., pandemic aid.

Shofar Analytics predicted a “Leni win” by a 2.5 per cent margin “with 85.5 per cent probability”.

Only when the country's Election Commission announces the official results a few days from now will Filipinos know how close the race for the Malacañang Palace[*] was.

[*] The official residence and main place of work of the president of the Philippines.

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