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Duterte favourite as Philippines holds presidential elections

The elections will also see Filipinos choose more than 18,000 other positions, down to the local village councillor level, in another milestone for a nation that has struggled to cement democracy after emerging from dictatorship three decades ago.

Duterte, the longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao, has hypnotised millions with his vows of brutal but quick solutions to the nation’s twin plagues of crime and poverty, which many believe 
have worsened despite strong economic growth in recent years.

The candidate's critics have warned he will plunge the country into another dark period of dictatorship and turmoil, after a “People Power” revolution ended the regime of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Duterte, a pugnacious 71-year-old, surged from outsider to the top of surveys with cuss-filled vows to kill tens of thousands of criminals, threats to establish one-man rule if lawmakers disobey him, and promises to embrace communist rebels.

He also boasted repeatedly about his Viagra-fuelled affairs, while promising voters his mistresses would not cost a lot because he kept them in cheap boarding houses and took them to short-stay hotels for sex.

Duterte caused further disgust in international diplomatic circles with a joke that he wanted to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who was killed in a 1989 Philippine prison riot, and by calling the pope a “son of a whore”.

Departing President Benigno Aquino, whose mother led the democracy movement that ousted Marcos, has warned repeatedly the nation is at risk of succumbing to another dictatorship.
“I need your help to stop the return of terror in our land. I cannot do it alone,” Aquino said in an appeal to voters in a final rally on Saturday in Manila for his preferred successor and fellow Liberal Party stalwart, Mar Roxas.

Across town, Duterte was outlining to tens of thousands of cheering fans his plans to end crime within six months of starting his presidency.

“Forget the laws on human rights,” Duterte, who has been accused of running vigilante death squads in Davao, said in his final campaign rally.

“If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because as the mayor, I’d kill you.” 

10 dead in Philippine election day violence

At least 10 people died across the Philippines in election day violence today, as gunmen attacked polling stations, ambushed vehicles and stole vote counting machines, police said.

However, authorities described the violence as isolated incidents and that the overall conduct of the elections — which will see tens of millions of people cast their votes for president and 18,000 other positions — was peaceful.

In the worst attack, seven people were shot dead in an ambush before dawn in Rosario, a town just outside of Manila known for political violence, Chief Inspector Jonathan del Rosario, spokesman for a national police election monitoring task force, said.

In Guindulungan, a small impoverished town in the strife-torn southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, where warlord-politicians have their own private armies, a voter was shot dead inside a polling station, police said. A bystander was also killed when a grenade was launched at a market in Cotabato, a major city in the south that neighbours Maguindanao, as people were casting their votes, police said.

In the nearby town of Sultan Kudarat, a stronghold of the nation’s biggest Muslim rebel group, 20 men forced their way into a voting centre and carted away voting machines, police chief Senior Inspector Esmael Madin said.

In the northern province of Abra, infamous for politicians killing each other, armed supporters of rival mayoral candidates shot at each other, leaving one person dead and two wounded, provincial police spokeswoman Marcy Grace Marron said.

Police arrested two men and two women with guns after the fighting in the mountainous town of Lagayan, 350 kilometres (217 miles) north of Manila, Marron added.

Still, elections commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the violence would not impact the result, noting they had taken place in known “hot spots” where extra security forces were in place. Military spokesman Colonel Noel Detoyato also voiced little alarm. “There are isolated incidents. (They) had minimal effect on the conduct of the elections,” he said. 
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