Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Marcos Jr eyes victory as election campaign ends



Marcos Jr eyes victory as election campaign ends

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The prospect of Ferdinand Marcos Jr moving back into the presidential palace has alarmed rights activists, church leaders and political analysts. AFP

Marcos Jr eyes victory as election campaign ends

The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos wrapped up his presidential election campaign on Saturday with a raucous rally of hundreds of thousands of supporters, as polls show him heading towards a landslide win.

Victory in Monday’s election would cap a decades-long effort to rehabilitate the Marcos legacy after the patriarch was deposed and the disgraced clan chased into US exile.

But the prospect of Ferdinand Marcos Jr moving back into the presidential palace has alarmed rights activists, church leaders and political analysts who fear he could rule “without constraint”.

The Marcoses’ remarkable return from pariahs to the peak of political power has been fuelled by public anger over corruption and poverty that persisted under governments that followed the dictatorship.

Hundreds of thousands of red-clad Marcos supporters on Saturday amassed on a dusty wasteland overlooked by a gleaming luxury casino resort – a stark reminder of the country’s vast income gap.

Wielding national flags, they gathered before a stage featuring an enormous screen of the smiling candidate as Filipino reggae, hip-hop and pop played at deafening levels.

“We will win as long as you stay awake on Monday so there won’t be another tragedy,” Marcos told the crowd, referring to his claims that he was cheated of victory in the 2016 vice presidential race.

Mary Ann Oladive, a 37-year-old call centre worker, said she hoped Marcos Jr would bring unity to the country.

“We hope for greater opportunity and jobs. We trust him, we hope that after the election they will give us a better future in the Philippines,” she said.

Ten candidates are vying to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte in the landmark elections seen by many as a make-or-break moment for Philippine democracy.

Polls indicate Marcos Jr will win more than half the votes, which would make him the first presidential candidate to secure an absolute majority since his father was ousted in 1986.

Analysts warn such an outcome would lead to weaker democratic checks and balances, more corruption and a fresh attempt to overhaul the 1987 constitution – which could include scrapping the one-term limit for presidents.

Previous administrations, including Duterte’s, have tried to amend the constitution, but they lacked sufficient support in Congress to push through changes.

The latest poll by Pulse Asia Research showed Marcos Jr on 56 per cent – 33 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival Leni Robredo, who narrowly beat him in the 2016 vice-presidential race.

Such a winning margin would give Marcos Jr the power to “govern the way Duterte wanted to”, one long-time observer of Philippine politics told AFP.

“That is without constraint,” he said.

Robredo’s recent poll bump has raised hopes among progressive supporters that their volunteer-driven campaign could yet deliver an upset.

There was a carnival atmosphere in the capital’s financial district on Saturday as hundreds of thousands of Robredo fans wearing her pink campaign colour and waving flags and balloons packed out avenues, dancing to live Pinoy pop blaring over loudspeakers.

In a rousing speech, Robredo told her supporters there was “always hope” and declared “victory awaits us”.

First-time voter Charmaigne Ang, 18, said the election was “very important”.

“Our next six years of life will depend on it,” Ang, 18, told AFP. “Surveys are not a basis of who will win.”

But pollster Ana Maria Tabunda of Pulse Asia Research gave Robredo little hope.

“Our error margin is only plus or minus two percentage points – given the large gap, it’s not going to be affecting the results,” Tabunda said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement