For a country that just elected a foul-mouthed, tough-talking and controversial strongman to the presidency, it was easy enough to believe that same electorate would also choose a similar strongman as vice president.
As returns come in from the May 9 general election in the Philippines, voters have delivered Rodrigo Duterte a strong victory in the race to become their next president. But they also seem to have had last-minute doubts about handing the vice presidency to Ferdinand ‘BongBong’ Marcos, Jr.
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Instead, defying polls throughout the campaign that gave Marcos a slight lead, the narrow winner (for now) is Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo, the candidate of the Partido Liberal ng Pilipinas (Liberal Party), which has governed the world’s 12th-most populous country for the last six years under Benigno ‘NoyNoy’ Aquino III. Under Aquino, whose father struggled (and was ultimately assassinated) in the fight for a democratic Philippines, the economy has grown at rates of 6% or even higher (barring relatively lower 3% growth in 2011).
With over 96% of the votes counted, Robredo led with 35.1% to just 34.6% for Marcos, a slim margin of around 215,000 votes, though observers believe that, based on the outstanding results, Marcos is unlikely to take the lead. That’s despite Marcos’s nearly two-to-one advantage in metropolitan Manila, which includes both the capital city and the even more populous Quezon City.
Already, Marcos is complaining about election irregularities. That must come as something of an ironic shock to the rest of the world, which considers the Marcos name to be virtually synonymous with kleptocracy. The family was implicated in last month’s sensational ‘Panama Papers’ scandal over offshore tax havens.
Robredo, who isn’t necessarily natural allies with Duterte, has indicated that she is willing to serve in a Duterte cabinet and, in turn, Duterte’s spokesperson has confirmed that he will offer a cabinet position to Robredo.