The Philippines goes to the polls on May 9 to choose a new president, in what analysts say will be the most significant election in the Southeast Asian nation’s recent history.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte leaves office with a reputation for brutality – his signature “drug war” has left thousands dead and is being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – economic incompetence, and cracking down on the media and his critics.
Duterte has also been criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 60,439 people in the archipelago.
There are 10 people battling to replace him, but only two stand a chance of winning.
The first is frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr, popularly known as “Bongbong” and the namesake of his father, who ruled the Philippines as a dictator until he was forced from office and into exile in a popular uprising in 1986.
The second is Leni Robredo, the current vice president and head of the opposition, who has promised more accountable and transparent government and to reinvigorate the country’s democracy.
“This election is really a good versus evil campaign,” University of the Philippines Diliman political scientist Aries Arugay told Al Jazeera. “It’s quite clear. Duterte represents dynasty, autocracy and impunity. Robredo stands for the opposite of that: integrity, accountability and democracy.”
Polling stations will open at 6am (22:00 GMT) and close at 7pm (11:00 GMT). The hours have been extended because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to avoid queues and crowds.
Once the polls close, counting gets under way immediately, and the candidate with the most votes wins. There is no second round so the name of the new president could be known within a few hours. The inauguration takes place in June.
As well as the presidential race, Filipinos are choosing a new vice president – the position is elected separately to the president – members of congress, governors and thousands of local politicians including mayors and councillors.
Politics can be a dangerous business in the Philippines and there is the risk of violence during both campaigning and the election itself.
In one of the most horrific incidents, dozens of people were killed and buried by the roadside in 2009 by a rival political clan in what became known as the Maguindanao massacre.
Who is in the running for president?
Opinion polls suggest Marcos Jr remains in the lead although Robredo appears to be closing the gap.
The 64-year-old dictator’s son attended the private Worth School in England and studied at Oxford University – Marcos Jr’s official biography says he “graduated” but the university says he emerged with a “special diploma” in social studies.
He entered politics in the family stronghold of Ilocos Norte in 1980, and was governor of the province when his father was forced out of power and democracy restored.
In 1992, he was elected to congress – again for Ilocos Norte. Three years later, he was found guilty of tax evasion, a conviction that has dogged him ever since but does not seem to have hindered his political career.
Marcos Jr was elected a senator in 2010, and ran unsuccessfully for the vice presidency six years later when he was pipped to the post by a resurgent Robredo.
On the campaign trail, Marcos Jr has talked of “unity” but has provided little detail on his policies and has avoided media interviews and debates.
His running mate is Sara Duterte-Carpio, Duterte’s daughter, who took over as mayor of Davao City from her father and is leading the field for vice president.