MANILA, Philippines: The latest on the presidential election in the Philippines, where Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor of the southern city of Davao, led pre-election polls, promising to wipe out crime and corruption in three to six months if he wins (all times local):
Philippine officials say voting for president, vice president and thousands of other posts has ended, although some areas were given a one-hour extension due to delays.
As the voting closed Monday, results started to be transmitted electronically to a quick-count center in Manila.
Officials say a presumptive winner for president is not expected to be known until at least 24 hours after the polls closed.
The front-runner in the presidential race is Rodrigo Duterte — a brash mayor known for his sex jokes, pledges to kill criminals and a promise to end crime and corruption within six months.
Philippine Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista has announced that voting in precincts that opened three or more hours later than scheduled because of technical or other problems will be extended by an hour, closing at 6 p.m. local time.
Voting at most of the 92,509 precincts nationwide opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m. It wasn’t immediately clear how many precincts would be kept open later.
“There are precincts that failed to start on time, this is why the commission en banc has decided that if one started voting by 9 a.m. and up, it will now end at 6 p.m.,” Bautista told reporters.
At least 150 vote counting machines have been ordered replaced after the original units malfunctioned, commission officials said.
A throng of journalists and supporters crowded around front-runner Rodrigo Duterte as he entered a school to vote in the southern city of Davao, where he is mayor.
Asked how he felt about the crowd and the intense focus on him, Duterte, who is also the city’s mayor, said he was not surprised. “I am a candidate for the presidency and almost all of them are my constituents. It’s very natural for them to gravitate toward me.”
Duterte, wearing a red-and-white plaid short-sleeved shirt, said he was asleep when asked if he had heard news reports on complaints about malfunctioning vote machines.
Inside the room, he raised a clenched fist — his election symbol — at the huge crowd outside trying to get a glimpse of him through the door and a grilled window.
Financial market analysts are predicting that if the brash Rodrigo Duterte wins the presidency, the Philippine peso will likely continue to weaken given his uncertain economic platform.
The jitters have affected the Philippine stock market, which fell Friday — the last day of trading before Monday’s election holiday — for the 10th time in 11 days. The mayor of Davao city led pre-election polls.
A surprise upset by Grace Poe or Mar Roxas, whom investors view as having more responsible economic policies, could trigger a rebound in the peso, said Chang Wei Liang of the Singapore Treasury Division of Mizuho Bank Ltd.
The peso closed Friday at 47.09 against the dollar, 20 centavos weaker than its closing rate a week earlier.
“The market is obviously emotional and the stronger emotion is usually fear rather than hope,” said Jose Vistan, research head at AB Capital Securities Inc. “A big chunk of the reason why we’re behaving the way we are is obviously because of the elections.”
Former Finance Secretary Ramon del Rosario, chairman of the prestigious Makati Business Club, said Duterte’s statements during the campaign, including his threats to abolish Congress if it doesn’t cooperate with him, convey a “distinct lack of respect of respect for the rule of law.”
That in turn will undermine investor confidence and the wider economy because “without investments, there will be no jobs,” he said.
Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who is running for a Senate seat, has cast his vote in his home turf of southern Sarangani province. Voter preference surveys put him near the top of the senatorial candidates, recovering from an earlier drop in his ratings due to his remarks about same-sex marriage.
The Bible-quoting Pacquiao said in February that people in same-sex relations are “worse than animals.” He apologized to people hurt by his comments but made clear he opposed same-sex marriage.
He is the Philippines’ most famous athlete and among the wealthiest sports celebrities in the world. He has represented Sarangani province in the House of Representatives since May 2010.
The 37-year-old called on Filipinos to unite and accept the election results.
“Whoever wins, then respect it because that’s the people’s choice,” he told local network TV5. “It’s impossible for a nation to effect change if it is not united.”
Pacquiao is running under the ticket of Vice President Jejomar Binay but he has also been endorsed by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the front-runner in the presidential race.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late Philippine dictator, has voted in his father’s northern home province of Ilocos.
Marcos Jr. is running for vice president, and topped opinion polls for the No. 2 position, raising the possibility of a Marcos family member assuming a job that is one step away from the presidency. His father was ousted in the 1986 “people power” revolt.
Vice presidents are separately elected in the Philippines.
His mother, Imelda, is running unopposed for re-election as congresswoman, and his sister is eyeing another term as Ilocos governor.
President Benigno Aquino III has campaigned against Marcos, citing his refusal to apologize for the economic plunder and widespread human rights violations that happened under the dictator.
Aquino’s father, a former senator who opposed Marcos, was assassinated at the Manila airport while being escorted by the military as he returned from U.S. exile, sparking protests that culminated in the 1986 revolt.
Detained former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is running for re-election as a member of the House of Representatives, voted in her northern home province of Pampanga after a court allowed her to temporarily leave hospital detention.
Wearing a neck brace and guarded by police, Arroyo waved at other voters as she walked into a voting center in Pampanga’s Lubao town, accompanied by her husband.
The 69-year-old Arroyo, who is suffering from a neck ailment, finished her tumultuous nine-year term in 2010. Since then, she has been separately charged with vote fraud and in another corruption case and was eventually detained.
She has accused her successor, Benigno Aquino III, of pursuing a political vendetta. Aquino was elected with a landslide margin on a promise to rid the Philippines of corruption and vowed to prosecute Arroyo and her inner circle, blaming them for stealing money for personal gain and for a culture of impunity in which corrupt practices flourished. Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing.
Three of five presidential candidates — former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago — cast their vote early, lining up with common folk and shaking hands of well-wishers.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has led in pre-poll surveys and led a huge final rally in Manila that police estimated drew a crowd of 300,000, was expected to vote in his southern port city of Davao on Monday afternoon.
Another candidate who has fared strongly in the voter-preference polls, Sen. Grace Poe, plans to drop by the tomb of her adoptive father, action movie star Fernando Poe, before voting in the capital.
Poe was abandoned as a newborn in a church then adopted by Poe and his wife, who is also a movie star. Although a political neophyte, she used her celebrity name as an effective springboard into Philippine politics.
Gunmen have shot to death seven men and wounded another in Rosario town in Cavite province near Manila a few hours before voting centers opened in the Philippine presidential election.
Police are investigating if the pre-dawn attack Monday is related to the elections.
Police say the victims, mostly Muslim street vendors, were forced to alight from their van on a main road by the gunmen, who then opened fire with assault rifles. Another companion of the victims was wounded and brought to a hospital, Rosario police chief Rommel Javier said by telephone.
If the brazen killings were related to the polls, they would be an addition to 15 deaths already attributed by the police to elections violence.
Such violence, including allegations of cheating, and attacks on voting centers and political headquarters of candidates, have marred elections in the past, especially among rival local politicians in the provinces.