For months, the Philippines has been pulsating with the power of a significant election marketing campaign.
It has been a full of life scene of 1 large rally after one other throughout the race, drawing crowds to occasions that play out extra like concert events or avenue events within the archipelago nation.
On Monday, extra 67 million registered voters will solid ballots to determine the nation’s subsequent chapter, voting in a brand new president, vice-president and 12 senators, in addition to 300 lower-house legislators and a few 18,000 officers, together with mayors, governors and native district councillors.
Many see this election as a high-stakes inflection level for the Philippines that may decide the way it’s ruled and the way it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outgoing president, Rodrigo Duterte, has been a preferred however polarizing determine, clamping down on a free press and violating human rights along with his signature “battle on medicine” coverage.
Human Rights Watch estimates that the hardline policy resulted within the deaths of greater than 12,000 folks, with about 3,000 coming by the hands of police.
However Duterte’s supporters imagine he is been efficient at imposing self-discipline on the inhabitants and chopping again on crime and corruption.
And in a rustic with one of many highest poverty charges on this planet, preventing poverty with jobs, well being care and schooling has largely been on the centre of each candidate’s platform.
Who’s the presidential front-runner?
Whereas the candidate record consists of 10 folks, because the marketing campaign winds down, it has principally turn out to be a two-way race between incumbent Vice-President Leni Robredo and Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos Jr., a former senator and son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The most recent public opinion polls put Marcos Jr., 64, comfortably within the lead. His working mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is the daughter of the present president.
The recognition of Marcos is the results of a significant rehabilitation of his household title, coming 36 years after Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was ousted by the nation’s “folks energy” revolution after years of brutal dictatorship — an period mired with corruption and violence.
“Our political system has actually been monopolized and dominated by highly effective political households,” defined Sheila Coronel, a Filipino investigative journalist and professor at Columbia College in New York.
“Our political system may be very undemocratic. I’d say there’s perhaps 2,000-plus households which have a monopoly over native and nationwide political workplace in a rustic of over 100 million folks.”
In his bid to regain public workplace, Marcos Jr. has had “to rebuild the parable of the Marcos period because the golden age of the Philippines, the place there was peace, there was progress or there was prosperity,” mentioned Coronel.
“They invested closely in that, particularly in social media,” she mentioned. “They’ve focused particularly youthful voters — these beneath 40, who don’t have any reminiscence of martial regulation or of the Marcos regime.”
Throughout the marketing campaign, Marcos has forgone debates and mainstream media appearances in favour of messaging made for social media platforms, together with TikTok, Fb and YouTube.
“Social media for the 2022 elections has performed an enormous half in rehabilitating the Marcos model,” mentioned Jonathan Ong, a disinformation researcher and affiliate professor on the College of Massachusetts.
With public opinion polls suggesting that 56 per cent of voters would elect Marcos, Ong mentioned a lot of that help is definitely for his household’s model, “which has been modified, refined, whitewashed, sanitized by social media.”
“That is one thing that didn’t occur throughout marketing campaign season, however has been a undertaking for six, even seven years,” he mentioned.
What about his challenger?
Leni Robredo, a former human rights lawyer, has constructed her marketing campaign round making an attempt to counter the Marcos social media machine — and the title recognition that comes along with his political dynasty.
She and her workforce take satisfaction in working a grassroots marketing campaign powered by volunteers, some going home to deal with to speak on to voters.
Whereas Robredo, 57, is the incumbent vice-president, she has distanced herself from the Duterte administration.
Within the Philippines, the president and vice-president do not should run as a single ticket and the 2 ran on completely different tickets within the 2016 race. When she was elected, she had a separate inauguration from Duterte.
That race was additionally the primary time she confronted off in opposition to Marcos Jr., and she or he beat him for the vice-president place.
Robredo’s supporters see her candidacy as a turning level, the place the Philippines can transfer away from the Duterte period — when the nation typically grabbed international headlines for the president’s poor report on human rights.
In speeches laced with profanity, Duterte would typically brag about ordering the killings of accused drug sellers with no due course of.
Robredo, however, has promised to uphold human rights for the nation’s residents.
It is a message that resonates with activist Julie Jamora, who has been organizing abroad Filipino voters within the U.S. She’s additionally the nationwide secretary basic for Malaya Motion USA, which has endorsed Robredo.
There are virtually two million Filipino voters dwelling overseas.
“We actually have a stake in what is occurring within the elections and what is going to decide the course of the subsequent six years,” mentioned Jamora.
She mentioned the earlier six years below Duterte have been marked by “large human rights violations, militarized COVID responses and … the diminishing of democratic areas.”
Who’re the opposite candidates?
Among the different candidates within the election have made the run-up to the vote an thrilling one for Filipinos, together with movie star and world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao.
Though his numbers present him trailing within the polls, Pacquiao is a family title within the Philippines and world wide. He gained a senate seat within the nation in 2016.
Pacquiao’s private story is a widely known lore: He rose from abject poverty to turn out to be one of many richest folks within the nation.
In interviews and at marketing campaign rallies, Pacquiao has mentioned that he’s working to serve the identical communities the place he began, aiming to raise them out of poverty with jobs, well being care and schooling.
Different high-profile candidates embrace Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso and Panfilo (Ping) Lacson, a present senator and former police basic.
What’s at stake?
The subsequent president of the Philippines will face a protracted record of points that might outline the nation’s future for years to come back: rebuilding the economic system after the pandemic worn out tens of millions of jobs, charting a international coverage amidst territorial threats from China and future-proofing in opposition to looming crises, like local weather change.
To Coronel, who might be within the Philippines to witness the outcomes are available, this election is a couple of younger democracy that hasn’t fairly discovered its footing, noting the vote comes simply three a long time after the nation’s presidential palace was stormed to carry down a dictator.
“I used to be proper exterior the palace gates when Marcos fled the nation. So I wish to see this entire arc of this entire story,” she mentioned.
“These [last] 36 years have been years of dysfunction and corruption — individuals are getting poorer, there’s rising inequality,” mentioned Coronel.
“I feel this election is about litigating democracy, and whether or not it is nonetheless a significant undertaking for Filipinos to help.”