Final countdown for Philippine presidential election

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Philippine elections gun ban
The Philippine election commission has set a gun ban for the entire election period

A presidential election campaign in the Philippines accompanied by tough talk, embarrassing public statements, a massive data breach into voter databases, tricky decisions by the election commission and fears of pre-election violence and even assassinations is finally reaching its last phase.

Scheduled for May 9, voters in the 16th presidential election since 1935, will have to choose between five presidential candidates and six candidates for vice-presidency.

As is stands, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is leading pre-election polls with 34 per cent of 4,000 respondents in the latest Pulse Asia survey released on April 24. Senator Grace Poe followed with 22 per cent in the poll.

Vice President Jejomar Binay was third at 19 per cent, while former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas got 18 per cent among the top contenders in the survey.

The poll, however, was concluded before Duterte’s remarks last week in which he joked he wanted to be “the first to rape a beautiful Australian missionary” who was sexually assaulted and killed by inmates during a 1989 hostage-taking crisis in a Davao prison.

Analysts therefore say that, even though Duterte continues to enjoys great popularity, his chances will likely be hurt by the storm of criticism that followed the rape joke, as well as offensive remarks against major Western allies, including Australia and the US, whose ambassadors took a critical stance towards Duterte.

But he later angrily asked the two ambassadors to “shut up.” When asked about the possibility of the US and Australia cutting ties with the Philippines over the issue, Duterte said: “If I become president, go ahead and sever it.”

In his last TV debate on April 24, Duterte stepped his tough talk up and said he is sticking to his iron fist approach to violently eradicating crime, especially drug trafficking and kidnappings, as well as corruption “in three to six months” after he would have become president.

Live on TV, he even said he would “kill his own children” if they ever took drugs.

“I am really angry,” he noted. “They say I am a killer. Maybe I am.”

While these remarks are a bit delicate in a staunchly Catholic society such as the Philippines, to put it mildly, analysts say that Duterte’s vulgar and profanity-laced campaign has indeed resonated in a chaotic, high-crime society with limited opportunities for a vast underclass working for the benefits of a tiny, but wealthy elite.

But after his latest remarks, some observers started to question Duterte’s fitness to lead an entire nation, while many undecided voters, especially women and the marginalized who were initially leaning to support him, began to fear that he may bring the Philippines into a conflict with other nations and lever out the fragile state of law in the country of more than 100 million people.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippine election commission has set a gun ban for the entire election period

A presidential election campaign in the Philippines accompanied by tough talk, embarrassing public statements, a massive data breach into voter databases, tricky decisions by the election commission and fears of pre-election violence and even assassinations is finally reaching its last phase.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Philippine elections gun ban
The Philippine election commission has set a gun ban for the entire election period

A presidential election campaign in the Philippines accompanied by tough talk, embarrassing public statements, a massive data breach into voter databases, tricky decisions by the election commission and fears of pre-election violence and even assassinations is finally reaching its last phase.

Scheduled for May 9, voters in the 16th presidential election since 1935, will have to choose between five presidential candidates and six candidates for vice-presidency.

As is stands, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is leading pre-election polls with 34 per cent of 4,000 respondents in the latest Pulse Asia survey released on April 24. Senator Grace Poe followed with 22 per cent in the poll.

Vice President Jejomar Binay was third at 19 per cent, while former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas got 18 per cent among the top contenders in the survey.

The poll, however, was concluded before Duterte’s remarks last week in which he joked he wanted to be “the first to rape a beautiful Australian missionary” who was sexually assaulted and killed by inmates during a 1989 hostage-taking crisis in a Davao prison.

Analysts therefore say that, even though Duterte continues to enjoys great popularity, his chances will likely be hurt by the storm of criticism that followed the rape joke, as well as offensive remarks against major Western allies, including Australia and the US, whose ambassadors took a critical stance towards Duterte.

But he later angrily asked the two ambassadors to “shut up.” When asked about the possibility of the US and Australia cutting ties with the Philippines over the issue, Duterte said: “If I become president, go ahead and sever it.”

In his last TV debate on April 24, Duterte stepped his tough talk up and said he is sticking to his iron fist approach to violently eradicating crime, especially drug trafficking and kidnappings, as well as corruption “in three to six months” after he would have become president.

Live on TV, he even said he would “kill his own children” if they ever took drugs.

“I am really angry,” he noted. “They say I am a killer. Maybe I am.”

While these remarks are a bit delicate in a staunchly Catholic society such as the Philippines, to put it mildly, analysts say that Duterte’s vulgar and profanity-laced campaign has indeed resonated in a chaotic, high-crime society with limited opportunities for a vast underclass working for the benefits of a tiny, but wealthy elite.

But after his latest remarks, some observers started to question Duterte’s fitness to lead an entire nation, while many undecided voters, especially women and the marginalized who were initially leaning to support him, began to fear that he may bring the Philippines into a conflict with other nations and lever out the fragile state of law in the country of more than 100 million people.

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