By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MANILA (Worthy News) – There were reports of violence during Monday’s presidential election in the Philippines that the son of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos was expected to win.
Video obtained by Worthy News showed the destruction of ballots at a school in Magonaya village in the Binidayan municipality of Lanao del Sur province.
An angry woman shouted, “why did you destroy the ballot?” towards officials. Ballot papers were seen lying on the ground amid chaotic scenes.
Soon after, panic ensued among bystanders standing outside as nearby men with sticks beat up one or more persons, some lying on the ground.
Sources told Worthy News that fighting broke out after voters claimed their ballots for Ferdinand Marcos Junior, the favorite to win the election, were not counted.
Instead, they claimed, the voting machine had registered them to vote for Leni Robredo, the current vice president and head of the opposition. Voting later resumed, but it was unclear whether all ballots were correctly counted, voters told Worthy News.
In several other polling stations, voting was reportedly postponed amid tensions with the military and teachers involved in helping voters.
More than 60,000 security forces have been deployed to protect ballots and election workers, authorities said.
The Philippines has a history of political violence, and the bitter campaign didn’t help ease frustration among voters on both sides of the political spectrum.
Opinion polls showed Marcos Jr., 64, heading for a landslide victory with a double-digit lead over Robredo.
In the latest surveys, she needed a low turnout or a late surge of support to get over the line. However, there were signs that many Filipinos voted.
People wearing masks began queueing before dawn to cast their votes outside primary schools and other venues used as polling stations.
They opened at 6:00 am local time across the archipelago and were to continue until 7:00 pm.
Monday’s high-stakes election is seen as a make-or-break moment for the country’s democracy.
Nearly 40 years after a popular revolt chased the dictator and his family into exile, Marcos Junior looked set to complete their remarkable comeback.
Ten candidates were vying to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte in the elections,
only Marcos Jr. and his rival Robredo were seen as having a chance of winning.
Hundreds of thousands of red-clad supporters turned out at Marcos Jr. and Duterte’s rallies in Manila, the capital, over the weekend as they tried for the last time to push for votes.
Since Robredo announced her bid for the top job in October, volunteer groups have been seeking to convince voters to back what they view as a battle for the country’s soul.
But critics say that relentless whitewashing of the elder Marcos’s brutal and corrupt regime and public disenchantment with post-Marcos governments fueled his son’s popularity.
After six years of Duterte’s authoritarian rule, rights activists and Catholic church leaders fear Marcos Jr. will lead the heavily Catholic nation with an even heavier fist if he wins with a wide margin.
Robredo, a 57-year-old lawyer, and economist, has promised to clean up the perceived feudal and corrupt system where “a handful of surnames” rule the nation.
Marcos Jr. and his running mate Sara Duterte — both offspring of authoritarian leaders — insist they are best qualified to “unify” the country, though they have given few details.
Some 67.5 million Filipinos aged 18 and over are eligible to cast their vote, along with about 1.7 million from the vast Filipino diaspora registered overseas.
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