Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has won the Philippine presidential elections, following the withdrawal of his opponents.
Although the official result has not yet been declared, main rival Mar Roxas admitted defeat after polls gave Digong Duterte an unassailable lead.
The 71-year-old Maverick anti-crime candidate said he accepted the mandate with “extreme humility”.
Digong Duterte stirred controversy during campaigning with his incendiary comments.
He has credited his success to his tough stance on law and order.
Rodrigo Duterte’s record as the crime-crushing mayor of the southern town of Davao, once notorious for its lawlessness, earned him the moniker The Punisher and resonated with voters.
Other driving issues of the election campaign were pervasive corruption, as well as the poverty and inequality experienced by many Filipinos despite economic growth under outgoing President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.
According to election officials, there was a record turnout at polling stations, with more than 81% of the 54 million registered voters casting a ballot. Senators and about 18,000 local officials including mayors are also being elected.
The PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) poll monitor said that with 90% of the presidential ballots counted, Digong Duterte had more than 14.8 million votes – about 39%. The PPCRV is accredited by the election commission to monitor counting but its reporting does not represent an official tally.
Mar Roxas, a former interior minister and Digong Duterte’s closest rival, had 8.6 million votes.
As the extent of his lead became clear, Digong Duterte told AFP news agency: “It’s with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people.”
Mar Roxas accepted his rival’s win, saying: “There are many tears in the room. Let me tell you this is not a time for tears. For our country, we have had a peaceful, successful transfer of power.”
Another key rival, Senator Grace Poe, was the first to concede defeat, promising to “co-operate with the healing process” after a turbulent campaign.
In the election to be vice-president, Leni Robredo, a social activist, is currently slightly ahead of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son of a former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Benigno Aquino is standing down as the constitution limits presidents to one six-year term.
As Digong Duterte rose in opinion polls ahead of voting, Beningno Aquino had tried to unite other candidates against him, warning his election could mean a return to dictatorship for the Philippines.
Filipinos are voting for a new president and other leaders, with outspoken mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte the favorite to win.
Five candidates are running but Digong Duterte led polls ahead of voting, despite controversial comments while campaigning and a hard-line stance.
The campaign has been driven by public concerns about the economy, inequality and rampant corruption.
More than 100,000 police officers are on duty amid violence ahead of voting.
On May 9, seven people were shot dead in an ambush by unknown gunmen in the town of Rosario, in Cavite province, south of the capital, Manila.
The region had been considered an area of concern because of its political rivalries, said local media.
On May 8, a mayoral candidate was murdered in the south of the country.
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is standing down as the constitution limits presidents to one six-year term. Filipinos will also pick a vice-president and local officials.
The election campaign has focused on reforming the economy, infrastructure, tackling corruption and crime and on the territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Rodrigo Duterte has run a campaign focused on law and order issues, but made many controversial statements, including saying that he would butcher criminals.
A former state prosecutor nicknamed “The Punisher”, Rodrigo Duterte has been mayor of the southern city of Davao for more than 22 years.
He recently joked that, as mayor, he should have been first to rape an Australian missionary murdered in a prison riot, but he later apologized.
Digong Duterte’s closest rivals in the opinion polls are Grace Poe – a former schoolteacher and first-term senator – and Mar Roxas, a former investment banker and the grandson of the first president of the Philippine Republic.
President Benigno Aquino has been leading attempts to bring together other candidates in an effort to defeat Rodrigo Duterte.
He warned that if Digong Duterte were to be elected, it could mean a return to dictatorship.
In a final rally on May 7, Benigno Aquino appealed to voters: “I need your help to stop the return of terror in our land. I cannot do it alone.”
However, the other four candidates – also including Jejomar Binay and Miriam Defensor-Santiago – refused to step aside.
A vice-president, senators and about 18,000 local officials including mayors will also be elected.
More than 54 million Filipinos are registered to vote across the archipelago of 7,000 islands.
Voting began at 06:00 local time and is due to end at 17:00.
Voting could be extended in some areas, because of problems with new electronic voting equipment, election officials said.
Business is starting to suffer from the US shutdown, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has warned.
Penny Pritzker’s comments at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) came as leaders gathering for the summit voiced worries about the US situation.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino said that what happens in the US “affects us all”.
On Friday, the US defense contractor Lockheed Martin said it would put 3,000 workers on unpaid leave.
The US government closed non-essential operations on Tuesday after Congress failed to agree a new budget.
President Barack Obama cancelled a scheduled trip to Asia because of the shutdown.
“The shutdown is not good for business. It’s not good for the economy,” Penny Pritzker said.
The US government closed non-essential operations on Tuesday after Congress failed to agree a new budget
One consequence of the shutdown had been her department’s inability to collate vital economic data.
“We’re a huge source of data for American business and that is a problem… It’s affecting businesses and it’s affecting their ability to get data,” she said.
From Monday, Lockheed Martin will put 3,000 staff on leave, but the defense giant said this number would rise if the shutdown continued.
“I’m disappointed that we must take these actions and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown,” Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive and president, said in a statement.
“We hope that Congress and the Administration are able to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” she added.
The announcement followed United Technologies’ decision to temporarily lay off 2,000 employees.
The company, which makes Blackhawk helicopters, said some manufacturing had been halted because there were no government inspectors working to sign off products.
The widening impact of the shutdown sparked concern at APEC meeting in Bali on Sunday.
Benigno Aquino said: “The US economy is the number one economy in the world, what happens there affects all of us.
“The world economy obviously is not in a position to withstand too much shock at this time when we are just recovering as a global economy.”
Meanwhile, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the US had to confront its fiscal problems “in a better way than they are doing it now with shutting down the government”.
Barack Obama is refusing to negotiate with the Republicans over the budget issues until they pass a temporary bill to reopen the government.
The president also wants agreement to raise the $16.7 trillion US borrowing limit, to avoid the country defaulting on its debts.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino has signed into law a bill providing for free access to contraception and family planning.
Supporters say the law, which took 14 years to pass, will reduce poverty and maternal mortality in a country with the highest birth rate in the region.
The Roman Catholic Church repeatedly tried to block the bill.
The country’s Congress failed to pass the measure several times before giving it final approval on December 19th.
The law is due to take effect in mid-January, said presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte.
“The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history – a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this act,” she said.
“At the same time, it opens the possibility of co-operation and reconciliation… engagement and dialogue characterized not by animosity, but by our collective desire to better the welfare of the Filipino people.”
Philippines President Benigno Aquino has signed into law a bill providing for free access to contraception and family planning
Even now the bill has become law, the Church and its political allies could still derail it.
Several bishops have already threatened to contest the bill’s legality in the Supreme Court.
More than 80% of the population in the Philippines is Catholic, and the Church has had the support of many politicians, media commentators, and businessmen.
Condoms are widely sold in the Philippines, but at a price that many people cannot afford.
Many maternity hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of births, and the UN appealed to the Philippines earlier this year to pass the family planning bill.
A government health survey in 2011 found that the maternal mortality rate had risen by 36% between 2006 and 2010.
The body of Jesse Robredo, Philippine Interior Secretary, has been recovered from the sea after a plane he was travelling in crashed.
Jesse Robredo’s body was retrieved from wreckage of the light aircraft about 55 m (180 ft) underwater, Transport Secretary Mar Roxas told reporters.
He was described as a “most honorable” leader by the spokesman of President Benigno Aquino.
Three others were also on the plane when it crashed on Saturday.
Flags at government institutions and police stations are being flown at half-mast.
The body of Jesse Robredo, Philippine Interior Secretary, has been recovered from the sea after a plane he was travelling in crashed
“The nation is united in grief and gratitude to one of her finest and most honorable servant-leaders,” Benigno Aquino’s spokesman said in a statement.
The small plane was travelling from Cebu City in central Philippines to Jesse Robredo’s hometown of Naga City, in Camarines Sur province, when it encountered engine problems.
The pilots sought permission for an emergency landing at Masbate province, but did not manage to make it there. Witnesses saw the aircraft crash into the sea less than a kilometre from the runway.
The bodies of the two pilots have also been found in the wreckage, the government said, but it is not clear if they have been retrieved.
A fourth person, Jesse Robredo’s aide, managed to get out of the aircraft on Saturday. He was rescued by local fishermen and taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Benigno Aquino flew to Masbate on Sunday to oversee the search and rescue operation for Jesse Robredo, local media report.
The president was also with Jesse Robredo’s family on Tuesday as they received his remains in Naga City.
Jesse Robredo, 54, was in charge of the national police force and provincial governments. He was a close ally of Benigno Aquino and helped his election campaign in 2010.
He was a long-time mayor of Naga City before his appointment to Benigno Aquino’s cabinet.
A graduate of Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government, Jesse Robredo received numerous awards for good governance.
One of these was the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award, known as Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, in 2000.
Various officials have described him as an “exceptional” and “inspirational” public servant.
“His unflagging sense of integrity and diligence served as an example to many of his colleagues in and outside government, and these same qualities have made him a most valuable and highly regarded member of President Aquino’s cabinet,” said Florencio Abad, budget secretary, in a statement.
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