Marcos Jr leads polls as voting in the Philippines election 2022 ends

Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of outgoing leader, is tipped for vice president

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the dictator whose two-decade rule ended in a public revolt, was set to win the Philippines election as polls closed on Monday evening.

An unofficial vote count showed a huge early lead for Mr Marcos Jr, with 15.3 million votes, more than double the number those of his nearest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, with 46.9 per cent the number of eligible ballots counted, according to an unofficial count by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) .

Mr Marcos Jr has presented no real policy platform but his presidency is expected to provide continuity after the departure of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose ruthless approach to crime proved popular and helped him to consolidate power rapidly.

His daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is tipped to win the vice presidency. Although the president and vice president are elected separately, Mr Marcos Jr and Ms Duterte-Carpio are aligned.

The vote has been marred by violence. Three security guards were killed on Monday when gunmen opened fire at a polling station in southern Philippines, as millions of people voted in the national elections.

A fourth guard was wounded in the attack, police said.

The deadly shooting took place shortly after voting began in the Buluan municipality on Mindanao island, AFP reported.

The region suffers attacks from various armed groups including communist insurgents and Islamist extremists.

Gunmen also attacked a polling station in Mindanao's Lanao del Sur province, leaving one voter dead and two wounded, police said.

Elections are a traditionally a volatile time in the Philippines.

Voters ran for cover when the shooting started at the school that has been turned into a polling station, former mayor Ibrahim Mangudadatu said.

The shooting came after the explosion of five grenades outside a polling station in Datu Unsay municipality late on Sunday that left nine people wounded.

Minutes after that attack, a grenade exploded in the neighbouring municipality of Shariff Aguak, but there were no casualties.

Both of those towns are also in Maguindanao province.

Marcos family comeback

If the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos wins the presidential vote, it will return the clan to the pinnacle of political power.

Mr Marcos Jr, whose father was ousted in a 1986 army-backed uprising, had led pre-election surveys with a seemingly insurmountable lead.

On Monday, he cast his vote with his mother, Imelda Marcos, who became notorious during and after the Marcos era for misusing billions of dollars' worth of public funds.

She was convicted by a court in the Philippines in 1993 and spent some time in exile in Hawaii with her family. In 1990, the Supreme Court of Switzerland ruled that funds deposited in Swiss bank accounts by Ms Marcos were of “criminal provenance.”

But this controversial history of the Marcos clan hasn't significantly set back Mr Marcos Jr's campaign.

His closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, has tapped into shock and outrage over the prospect of another Marcos recapturing the seat of power and harnessed an army of campaign volunteers to underpin her candidacy.

A former human rights lawyer and staunch liberal, she has pledged to improve education and welfare, fight poverty and improve market competition if elected.

Eight other candidates, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao, Manila mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and former national police chief Senator Panfilo Lacson have lagged far behind in voter-preference surveys.

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Mr Pacquiao said that voter surveys did not capture his support among the poor and said he was "confident" he could cause a surprise.

Voter Thelma Manansala said she hoped her compatriots will be discerning in choosing the next leaders.

"We Filipinos are facing a lot of hardships and we really need a change of leadership," said Ms Manansala, 58.

Thousands of personnel from the police, armed forces and coastguard have been stationed across the archipelago to help secure polling stations and ballots, escort election officials and guard checkpoints.

Updated: May 11, 2022, 8:05 AM