Philippine residents head to polls, harbour hopes for new leadership
Philippine residents headed to cast their ballots on Monday (May 9), after polls opened in the country's most divisive presidential election in decades, with the prospect of a once-unthinkable return to the rule of the Marcos family, 36 years after they were toppled in a "people power" uprising.
The election pits Vice President Leni Robredo against the former senator and congressman Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of a dictator whose two-decade rule ended in a public revolt and his family's humiliating retreat into exile.
Opinion polls put Marcos, popularly known as "Bongbong," leading his rival by over 30 percentage points, having topped every poll this year. That means Robredo will need a late surge or low turnout if she is to win the presidency.
Meanwhile Marcos Junior voted in his hometown in Ilocos Norte province on Monday.
Marcos, 64, has presented no real policy platform but his presidency is expected to provide continuity with outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose ruthless, strongman approach proved popular and helped him to consolidate power rapidly.
About 65 million Filipinos are eligible to cast ballots on Monday to decide on the successor to President Rodrigo Duterte after six years in power.
10 candidates are running for the presidential election, including the country's iconic boxer Manny Pacquiao.
In the country's capital Manila, people explained the reasons for their ballots.
Thelma Manansala, 58, who said she has not missed an election since she was able to vote at 18, hoped people will vote on their conscience.
“We Filipinos are facing a lot of hardships and we need a change of leadership, so I hope people will use their minds, their hearts and their intelligence to vote for what is right,” said Manansala.
"It's Bongbong Marcos. And simply, he has a lot of ideas about how to improve the economy and way of living in the Philippines," said JR Pe, a Manila resident.
"Well for Leni, I am expecting the same from her for this 2022 elections. I know that the next six years, she will do and she will deliver as she did as vice president," said Joe Abnasan, another Manila resident.
They hoped the new president will revive the economy and improve their livelihood.
"Because of the pandemic, a lot of things have changed. A lot of people lose their jobs. And I think he will be the one to do the bounce back, to bring more jobs, bring more opportunities here in the Philippines," said Pe.
"I expect her to be as accountable and aspiring as she was as vice president. That's part of her advocacy, more livelihood for everyone. So that includes the young people as well," said Abnasan.
Millions of Filipinos will head to polling stations on May 9 to elect a new president, a new vice president, 12 of the 24-seat Senate, and members of the House of Representatives. Poll body data showed that over 18,000 national and local positions are up for grabs.
The upcoming elections will be the first to be held in the Southeast Asian country amid the global pandemic. Since the outbreak in 2020, the COVID-19 disease has infected over 3.68 million people and claimed the lives of over 60,000 in the Philippines.