Marcos Jr set for landslide presidential victory in Philippines election 2022

Mr Marcos Jr, better known as 'Bongbong', set to become the first candidate in recent history to win an outright majority in a Philippines presidential election

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the former president whose two-decade rule ended in a public revolt, won a landslide presidential election victory on Tuesday, as Filipino voters dismissed critics who say his rise could put their fragile democracy at risk.

Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Junior had secured 31 million votes with more than 98 per cent of the count concluded — more than double the tally of his nearest rival, liberal candidate Leni Robredo.

His running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing president and mayor of southern Davao city, had a formidable lead in the separate vice presidential race.

The expected victory is another turnaround for the fortunes of the Marcos family, who have gone from the presidential palace to pariahs and likely back again in the space of half a century.

In 1986, the elder Marcos and first lady Imelda Marcos were deposed and exiled by the "People Power" revolution.

"Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions," Mr Marcos Jr told the world, according to a statement by his spokesperson Vic Rodriguez.

Current authoritarian president Rodrigo Duterte retains widespread popular support but rights activists, Catholic leaders and political analysts have said that Mr Marcos Jr could rule with an even heavier fist if he wins by a large margin.

Delivering a late-night address from his campaign headquarters in Manila, a tired but beaming Mr Marcos Jr thanked volunteers for months of "sacrifices and work".

But he stopped short of claiming victory, warning that "the count is not yet done".

"Let's wait until it's very clear, until the count reaches a hundred per cent then we can celebrate."

Outside, euphoric supporters set off fireworks, waved the national flag and clambered on to parked cars to chant in victory.

Cleve Arguelles, a political science lecturer at Manila's De La Salle University, said it was already clear that "this will be a historic election" for the Philippines.

Mr Marcos Jr's opponent, Ms Robredo, a lawyer and the current vice president, admitted "clear disappointment" about the result.

The 57-year-old had promised to clean up the dirty style of politics that has long plagued a country where a handful of families hold sway.

In the final weeks before the election, her campaign morphed into a catchall pro-democracy movement that drew almost one million people to a single protest in Manila.

"She has no whiff of corruption allegations," said 52-year-old Robredo supporter Corazon Bagay. "She's not a thief. Leni is honest."

In a televised address in the early hours of Tuesday, Ms Robredo told supporters "nothing has been wasted. We did not fail".

She indicated that the movement would continue after the final results are announced, a process expected to take weeks.

"We are just getting started," she said.

Supporters of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr watch a fireworks display during the final campaign rally before the national elections in Paranaque City, Metro Manila. Reuters

Judy Taguiwalo, 72, an anti-Marcos activist, said the election was "another crossroads" for the country.

"We need to continue to stand up and struggle."

Analyst Mark Thompson said there should now be soul searching among an opposition that needs to broaden its message beyond "good governance".

"They need to make clear that they're going to improve the lives of the average Filipino," said Mr Thompson, who is director of the South-East Asia Research Centre at the City University of Hong Kong.

Mr Marcos Jr was able to tap into widespread anger at a string of post-dictatorship governments, which many Filipinos believe had failed to materially improve their lives.

Crucially, he also secured the support of several of the country's powerful political dynasties, who through networks of patronage can be called on to deliver blocs of votes.

Those alliances were set for a further victory with his running mate, Sara Duterte, garnering an even bigger lead over rivals in her vice presidential race.

Election day began before dawn, as mask-clad voters formed long queues to cast their ballots in tens of thousands of polling stations across the archipelago.

Polls officially closed 13 hours later at 7.00pm (1100 GMT).

At Mariano Marcos Memorial Elementary School in the northern city of Batac, the ancestral home of the Marcoses, voters waved hand fans to cool themselves in the tropical heat.

Bomb sniffer dogs swept the polling station before Mr Marcos Jr, 64, arrived with his younger sister, Irene, and eldest son, Sandro.

They were followed by Mr Marcos Jr's mother, Imelda, who was lowered from a van dressed head to toe in red - the clan's campaign colour.

Supporters of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr celebrate as partial results of the 2022 national elections show him with a wide lead. Reuters

Sandro, 28, who is running for elected office for the first time in a congressional district in Ilocos Norte province, admitted the family's history was "a burden".

"It's one that we also try to sustain and protect and better as we serve," he added.

Mr Marcos Jr and Ms Duterte - both children of authoritarian leaders - have insisted they are best qualified to "unify" the country.

Hundreds of thousands of red-clad supporters turned out at Mr Marcos Jr and Ms Duterte's raucous rally in Manila on Saturday, as they made a last push for votes.

Other candidates seeking the presidency included boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and former street scavenger-turned-actor Francisco Domagoso.

Personality rather than policy typically influences many people's choice of candidate, though vote-buying and intimidation are also perennial problems.

More than 60,000 security personnel were sent out to protect polling stations and election workers.

Police reported at least two deadly shootings at polling stations on the restive southern island of Mindanao that left four people dead and three wounded.

That followed a grenade attack on Sunday that injured nine people.

Updated: May 11, 2022, 8:08 AM
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