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Marcos Jr on verge of historic win as Philippine presidential campaign ends

MANILA (AFP) – The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters yesterday on the final day of presidential election campaigning, as polls showed him heading towards a landslide win.

Victory in tomorrow’s election would cap a decades-long effort to rehabilitate the Marcos legacy after the patriarch was deposed and the disgraced clan chased into United States (US) exile.

But the prospect of Ferdinand Marcos Jr moving back into the presidential palace has alarmed rights activists, church leaders and political analysts who fear he could rule “without constraint”.

The Marcoses’ remarkable return from pariahs to the peak of political power has been fuelled by public anger over corruption and poverty that persisted under governments that followed the dictatorship.

Thousands of red-clad Marcos supporters braved the ferocious sun and high winds yesterday to amass on a dusty wasteland overlooked by a gleaming luxury resort – a stark reminder of the country’s vast income gap.

Wielding national flags or umbrellas for shade, they gathered before a stage featuring an enormous screen of the smiling candidate as Filipino reggae, hip-hop and pop played at deafening levels.

Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr raises his hands during a campaign rally in Laoag City, Ilocos norte province. PHOTOS: AFP
Supporters of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his running mate Sara Duterte wave flags during a campaign rally in Paranaque City, suburban Manila.

Mary Ann Oladive, a 37-year-old call centre worker, said she hoped Marcos Jr would bring unity to the country.

“We hope for greater opportunity and jobs. We trust him, we hope that after the election they will give us a better future in the Philippines,” she said.

BITTER CAMPAIGN

Allegations of dirty tricks marred the last week of a bitter presidential campaign, as Marcos Jr warned of vote-rigging while Robredo accused him of being a “liar”.

Still smarting from his 2016 loss, Marcos Jr has run a tightly-controlled campaign, skipping televised debates with rivals and largely shunning media interviews to avoid own goals before election day.

A massive and well-funded social media misinformation campaign targetting a mostly young electorate with no memory of his father’s violent and corrupt rule has also sought to rewrite the family’s history.

Marcos Jr’s popularity has been further enhanced by a formidable alliance with vice-presidential front runner and first daughter Sara Duterte, and the backing of several rival political dynasties.

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