MANILA: As they wait to vote Monday to decide who will succeed President Rodrigo Duterte, Filipino voters are expressing different hopes and expectations for the next six years.
About 67 million of the Philippines’ 110 million people are eligible to go to the polls.
It is not just the presidential position that will be decided, but also thousands of other positions across the country – from vice-presidential and Senate seats to 18,000 local positions, such as mayors, governors of province and councillors.
There are 10 candidates for the presidency of Duterte, who will reach the end of his six-year term in June and is constitutionally barred from running again.
The favorite in the opinion polls is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator. Her biggest challenge comes from current vice president Leni Robredo, who beat Marcos in her 2016 vice-presidential bid.
Other candidates include boxing legend Manny Pacquaio, who is now a senator; Isko Moreno, former actor and current mayor of Manila; and Panfilo Lacson, senator and former police chief.
The winning candidate’s leadership style will stand in direct comparison to that of Duterte, who has been criticized by rights groups at home and abroad for his intolerance of dissent and his violent approach to crime related to the drugs – it is estimated that as many as 30,000 people were killed in his so-called “war on drugs”.
However, Duterte’s strongman image is at odds with what some voters hope to see in their next president.
“I want to change the political culture of clientelism and the macho-fascist outlook that the Duterte administration has established,” Jose Marie Eslopor, a 24-year-old activist from Iloilo province, told Arab News.
Espopor said he would vote for Robredo, a former human rights lawyer and the only female candidate in the race. She pushes for transparency in the public sector and is committed to strengthening the country’s medical system.
Robredo is one of Duterte’s most vocal critics. Despite being the vice president, she was not his running mate – the Philippines allows split-ticket voting, which means the president and vice president are elected separately.
Eslopor said he hoped for “progressive policies and programs that meet the needs of the working class, programs for students and improved social services.”
Similar hopes were shared by Romeo Carolina, a 43-year-old from Samar province. But he will vote for Marcos.
“Life is tough these days. Commodity prices are so high,” said Carolina, who has worked as a taxi driver for 10 years.
“Maybe BBM (Bongbong Marcos) can do something to solve this problem. In his father’s time, prices for electricity and even rice were cheaper. Maybe he can do something to lower the prices.
Marcos’ father ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for two decades, a time marked by widespread corruption and human rights abuses, and was removed from office in a popular uprising in 1986 In the decades since his ouster, outrage over his rule has faded. for many Filipinos and his rise to power was described by his supporters as an age of prosperity – a narrative his son supported.
While Marcos is running on a platform that promises continuity of Duterte’s policies — and has his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, as his running mate — some, like educator Kathy Ramos of Manila, hope he’ll advance the reforms of the current government.
Ramos said she wanted him “to focus on reducing the administrative work done by teachers and instead continuing with their traditional duties of teaching and educating the younger generation.”
Most Filipinos who spoke to Arab News said they wanted the new leader to cleanse the country of corruption.
Potre Dirampatan Diampusan, a doctor from Mindanao, thinks Robredo is the best qualified candidate for the job.
“She has never been involved in any corruption cases or allegations,” Diampusan said, adding that the new government “must have a heart that cares for the people, but can have an iron fist to fight corruption. corruption”.
Cye Reyes, 50, a cancer survivor, said she wanted a government that “will genuinely tackle the cancers of society like corruption and poverty”.
She added, “I dream of a government that will uphold and respect human rights, end impunity and hold all government officials accountable.”
While many already know their pick, it’s estimated that at least two in 10 Filipino voters don’t make up their mind until Election Day.
Among them was Geraldine Tayo, a security guard and single mother, who said she only hoped the next administration would tackle the unemployment problem.
“Honestly, I don’t even know if I will vote,” she said. “To me, they’re all the same.”