tstorm.png
Monday June 24th, 2019 7:38PM

Millions vote in Philippine elections crucial to Duterte

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Filipinos began casting their vote Monday in midterm elections highlighted by a showdown between President Rodrigo Duterte's allies who aim to dominate the Senate and opposition candidates fighting for checks and balances under a leader they regard as a looming dictator.

Nearly 62 million Filipinos have registered to choose among 43,500 candidates vying for about 18,000 congressional and local posts, including 81 governors, 1,634 mayors and more than 13,000 city and town councilors in 81 provinces, in one of Asia's most rambunctious democracies.

Many see the elections as a crucial referendum on Duterte's rise to power with a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has left thousands dead, his unorthodox leadership style, combative and sexist joke-laden outbursts and contentious embrace of China.

"President Duterte's name is not on the ballot but this is very much a referendum on his three years of very disruptive yet very popular presidency," Manila-based analyst Richard Heydarian said.

The outcome of the polls would show whether the Filipino populace affirms or rejects Duterte's authoritarian-style leadership in an Asian bastion of democracy, Heydarian said.

The most crucial race is for 12 seats in the 24-member Senate, which Duterte wants to fill with allies to bolster his legislative agenda. That includes the return of the death penalty, lowering the age for criminal liability of child offenders, and revising the country's 1987 constitution primarily to allow a shift to a federal form of government, a proposal some critics fear may be a cover to remove term limits.

Military and police forces were on full alert to respond to any violence, especially in security hotspots that include the entire southern region of Mindanao, and help prevent cheating amid intense local political rivalries.

Two suspected grenade blasts were reported in southern Maguindanao province, including one shortly before voting started at 6 a.m.. There were no reported injuries from the explosions.

Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez said the elections season has been peaceful so far compared to past years. Police say 20 people have died in poll-related violence, out of 76 reported casualties.

In Manila's financial district of Makati, former Vice President Jejomar Binay protested after his ballot was rejected by an automated counting machine, one of several similar complaints. At least two mayoral candidates have been put in police custody elsewhere, including one for alleged elections fraud.

Opposition aspirants consider the Senate the last bastion of checks and balances given the solid dominance of Duterte's loyalists in the lower House of Representatives. Last year, opposition senators moved to block proposed bills they feared would undermine civil liberties.

Duterte's politics and key programs, including his drive against illegal drugs that has left more than 5,200 mostly urban poor suspects dead, have been scrutinized on the campaign trail and defended by close allies running for the Senate, led by his former national police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who first enforced the crackdown when the president took office in mid-2016.

Aside from the drug killings, Duterte's gutter language and what nationalists say is a policy of appeasement toward China that may undermine Philippine territorial claims in the South China Sea, have also been the cause of protests and criticism.

A May 3-6 survey by independent pollster Pulse Asia showed 11 of Duterte-backed senatorial candidates and four other aspirants in the winning circle, including only one from the opposition. The survey also showed some favorites had narrow leads and a considerable number of voters were undecided, indicating a probability the results could change. The survey of 1,800 respondents had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

Duterte himself remains hugely popular based on independent ratings surveys.

Divided, cash-strapped and without a unified leader, opposition aspirants are fighting an uphill battle to capture the few Senate seats they need to stymie any hostile legislation.

Many Filipinos seem more open to authoritarianism due to past failures of liberal leaders, Heydarian said. Such a mindset has helped the family of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to make a political comeback.

Among many dirt-poor Filipinos, however, the concern is day-to-day survival.

"Martial law is scary but we're more afraid of dying in hunger," Arturo Veles, a jobless father of six, told The Associated Press.

Wiping away tears, Veles spoke outside his family's shanty in the humid squalor atop Smokey Mountain, a long-closed dumpsite in Manila's Tondo slum that remains a symbol of the country's appalling poverty. His asthma-stricken wife, Agnes, said that not one congressional candidate had treaded the fly-strewn and trash-littered path to their cluster of crumbling huts, probably because of the smell and filth.

Arturo Veles said the poor always suffer the most, indicating he and his wife would not vote for administration candidates. "They only see the poor, those using and selling drugs. That's the only thing they see, not the depth of our poverty."

Village guard Jose Mondejar, who lives in a Tondo community heavily festooned with elections streamers and posters, backed Duterte's anti-crime campaign, saying it has reduced crimes, including daytime robberies by drug addicts of passing cargo trucks, by about 70 percent in his neighborhood.

___

Associated Press journalists Bullit Marquez, Joeal Calupitan and Aaron Favila contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, General Senate Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
White House hopefuls swarm rival's home turf of California
The Democrats who want to be president are swarming California, competing for campaign cash and media attention while courting longtime allies of home-state Sen. Kamala Harris on their rival's own turf
8:38PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Samantha Mewis scores twice to lead US past South Africa 3-0
Samantha Mewis scored goals in both halves and the U.S. women's national team began its World Cup send-off series with a 3-0 victory over South Africa
7:57PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Top WH adviser Kudlow admits US consumers pay tariffs
Top White House adviser Kudlow admits US consumers, businesses pay tariffs
7:53PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
N. Korean cargo ship seized by US arrives in American Samoa
The Wise Honest, a North Korean cargo ship seized by the U.S. because of suspicion it was used to violate international sanctions, will undergo inspections now that it has docked at the port of Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa
5:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
UAE says 4 ships targeted by 'sabotage' off its east coast
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates say "sabotage operations" have been conducted against four commercial ships off its eastern coast
5:55PM ( 2 hours ago )
Meghan, Harry release baby feet photo for US Mother's Day
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have released a photo of their newborn baby's feet to mark Meghan's first Mother's Day as a mom
4:07PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP National News
Politics takes center stage as Israel hosts Eurovision
As host of this year's Eurovision, Israel has tried to use the hugely popular song contest to flaunt itself as a tolerant and cosmopolitan country that is winning increased acceptance on the world stage
1:04PM ( 7 hours ago )
Washington to offer first 'public option' insurance in US
Washington is set to become the first state in the nation to offer a universally available public health insurance option
11:51AM ( 8 hours ago )
Myanmar passenger jet lands safely after landing gear fails
A Myanmar National Airlines plane has made an emergency landing at Mandalay International Airport using only its rear wheels after the front landing gear failed to deploy
10:40AM ( 10 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
South Africa chief vows to purge ANC of 'deviant tendencies'
South Africa's president vows to purge ANC of 'deviant tendencies' after weakened election win
12:55PM ( 7 hours ago )
Manning refusing to testify at grand jury probing WikiLeaks
Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning says she won't testify Thursday before a second grand jury investigating WikiLeaks
12:46PM ( 7 hours ago )
Booker plays up Vegas connection in crucial Nevada caucus
Cory Booker rose to national fame as a New Jersey mayor and senator, but his mom and other relatives have lived in Las Vegas for years
11:25AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
South Africa's ruling ANC marks weakest election victory
South Africa's ruling ANC marks weakest election victory amid anger over corruption scandals
2:17PM ( 1 day ago )
Crowds decline at Venezuela protests amid fears of crackdown
A modest crowd of Venezuelans took to the streets Saturday to show support for the opposition-led congress which is coming under increasing pressure from the government of President Nicolás Maduro
2:12PM ( 1 day ago )
Shanahan wants secure border without continuous military aid
On a trip to a border city in Texas, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says he intends to accelerate planning to secure the border and bolster the government's ability to accomplish that without the Pentagon's continuous help
1:55PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Lithuania's presidential contest heads to runoff vote
Results from Lithuania's presidential election indicate a prominent economist and a former finance minister will advance to a runoff ballot later this month to pick a successor to incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite
6:24PM ( 2 hours ago )
Lithuanians vote for president to succeed tough Putin critic
Polls have closed in Lithuania, where voters cast ballots to elect a president since the current officeholder is being termed out of office
3:16PM ( 5 hours ago )
Voting in Indian elections reaches next-to-last phase
Indians are voting in the next-to-last round of 6-week-long national elections, marked by a highly acrimonious campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi flaying the opposition Congress party rival Rahul Gandhi for the country's ills
2:45AM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Elections
Ex-Fugees rapper charged in campaign finance case
A lawyer for one of the founding members of the 1990s hip-hop group the Fugees says his client is facing charges related to 2012 campaign contributions
4:13PM ( 2 days ago )
Arms control, Venezuela, Iran high on Pompeo's Russia agenda
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Russia next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions over the crisis in Venezuela and the Trump administration's hardline policy on Iran
3:12PM ( 2 days ago )
South Africa's ruling ANC coasting to win in national vote
The ruling African National Congress was on course to win South Africa's presidential and parliamentary elections by a comfortable margin, but with less support than the party received five years go
12:49PM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
White House hopefuls swarm rival's home turf of California
The Democrats who want to be president are swarming California, competing for campaign cash and media attention while courting longtime allies of home-state Sen. Kamala Harris on their rival's own turf
8:38PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Samantha Mewis scores twice to lead US past South Africa 3-0
Samantha Mewis scored goals in both halves and the U.S. women's national team began its World Cup send-off series with a 3-0 victory over South Africa
7:57PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Top WH adviser Kudlow admits US consumers pay tariffs
Top White House adviser Kudlow admits US consumers, businesses pay tariffs
7:53PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Channeling maybe-yes, maybe-no Mueller: Speak, Bob, speak!
For two years, the nation watched and waited as special counsel Robert Mueller investigated the Trump administration, only to end up wondering what he was trying to say
7:46PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Ryu carries no-hitter into 8th, Dodgers blank Nationals 6-0
Hyun-Jin Ryu took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, Corey Seager hit a grand slam and the Los Angeles Dodgers blanked the Washington Nationals 6-0 to split a four-game series that featured three shutouts
7:18PM ( 1 hour ago )