2022 Philippines Presidential Election – Back to the Future?
The 2022 presidential race is going to be a two-horse race between former senator Bongbong Marcos and Vice-President Leni Robredo. Examining the platforms laid out during the campaign period, a Marcos presidency appears to be aligned with the incumbent government, while Robredo’s governance trajectory is likely to counter several of the present administration’s initiatives.
Marcos intends to maintain warm ties with China despite an ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
Robredo, on the other hand, is bent on upholding the international tribunal ruling on the Philippines’ territorial claim in the disputed area.
Both presidential candidates vow to continue President Duterte’s flagship ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program and carry on the campaign against illegal drugs sans the violent killings.
The Marcos family’s checkered past is a concern among critics as only a fraction of the estimated USD 10 billion ill-gotten wealth amassed by his family during the 20-year rule of its late patriarch has been recovered by the government.
Critics of Robredo describe the vice-president as a mere puppet of the Liberal Party and showed poor leadership in her failure to establish a united opposition.
On May 9, 2022, over 67 million Filipinos will march to polling precincts to vote for the country’s new leaders, including the topmost post held by President Rodrigo Duterte. Vying for the presidency are 10 candidates, but only two appear to be key contenders for the position based on presidential surveys conducted by local pollsters.
Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has been consistently on top of presidential surveys, garnering over 50%, and in some polls even 60%, of the total sample population polled. In the latest Pulse Asia Survey taken from February 18-23, Marcos garnered 56% of the total sample size. The son of late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos earlier ran for vice-president in 2016 and lost to incumbent Vice-President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who is also gunning for the presidency.
Marcos is running under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (Federal Party of the Philippines), a party that was formed in 2018 by supporters of President Duterte that supported the latter’s presidential campaign in 2016. Running alongside Marcos is presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Vice-president Leni Robredo, meanwhile, is Marcos’ closest rival in polls. Robredo’s performance in the same recent Pulse Asia survey puts her in second place with 24% voters’ preference. The vice-president narrowly defeated Marcos in 2016, winning by a margin of less than 1% or about 270,000 votes.
Prior to becoming vice-president, Robredo served as a congresswoman in 2013, representing Camarines Sur’s Third District. Her late husband, Jesse Robredo, was interior secretary from 2010 to 2012. Robredo ran for the vice-presidency under the Liberal Party alongside the party’s presidential candidate Mar Roxas. Robredo is running as an independent candidate despite her being the party leader of the Liberal Party. Teaming up as vice-president of Robredo is Senator Francis Pangilinan.
Trailing behind Marcos and Robredo are Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Senator Panfilo Lacson. Moreno averages around 10% in presidential surveys, while Pacquiao and Lacson garner around 8% and 5%, respectively.
Although popularity polls only consider a small fraction of the electorate, outcomes of their surveys towards the end of the campaign period mirrored the actual presidential results. Hence, it appears the race to the presidency is primarily between Marcos and Robredo. A prospective Marcos presidency has raised concerns of a return of an era reminiscent of his father, while a Robredo presidency could mean a return of a party that is lorded by personalities that have ousted the Marcoses but have proved to be inept and lackluster in governance. And with a little over a week left before election day, it is prudent to look at these two figures’ predilections on domestic and international issues confronting the country should they end up winning the presidency.
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