Voters to make Duterte Harry’s day

President Benigno Aquino meets service personnel. He is alarmed at the rise of Rodrigo Duterte. Source: Wikimedia



Final campaign rallies are being held in the Philippines ahead of Monday’s election with controversial frontrunner Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte enjoying an impressive lead.

The final Pulse Asia Research poll showed Duterte with 33-per-cent support, Max Roxas on 22 per cent and Grace Poe 21 per cent. Social Weather Stations’ poll showed similar support for Duterte, 22 per cent for Poe and 20 per cent for Roxas.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino is leading attempts to bring together other candidates to consolidate the anti-Duterte vote.

“I hope we learn the lessons of history. We should remember how Hitler came to power,” Aquino told a rally in Manila.

“If you allow them to oppress your fellow man and you do not speak up, you will be the next one to be oppressed.”

Voters will select a new president for a six-year term, a vice-president, 12 senators and many municipal appointments.

There are more than 54 million registered voters across the 7,000 islands.

He is known as “Duterte Harry” or “The Punisher” for his tough crime-fighting approach and gangs of vigilantes. The 71-year-old has promised to eliminate crime and corruption within months in power.

Often compared to US Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, he recently joked that, as mayor, he should have been first to rape an Australian missionary murdered in a prison riot.

Investors are wary of the outcome of the election and whether the economic gains under Aquino can be sustained.

Aquino called on Duterte’s rivals to consolidate their votes.

However, candidates including Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay and Miriam Defensor-Santiago refused to stand down.

And Mar Roxas, a former interior minister, backed by Aquino, said he would continue his campaign after failing to convince Poe to unite against Duterte.

Roxas said that he and Poe should talk as the “spectre of dictatorship” loomed.

Duterte’s campaign said alliance-building against him “reeks of the stench of defeat”.

On Saturday a mayoral candidate was murdered in the south of the archipelago when a gunman stormed the home of Armando Ceballos, standing as an independent in Lantapan, police said.

Fifteen people have been killed during the campaign, although this is usual in the Philippines where dozens are killed during each election campaign.