Philippine presidential election

MANILA, May 3 (Reuters) – As the campaign reaches the home stretch, Philippine presidential candidates will stage final election rallies this week, in a race that has devolved into a two-horse fight between leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his major competitor Leni Robredo.

Marcos, the son and namesake of the deposed dictator who governed the country for two decades, leads the incumbent vice president, Leni Robredo, in surveys ahead of the May 9 election.

The frontrunner, who is set to hold the first of three major rallies this week on Tuesday, appears to be on the approach of completing a once-unthinkable rebranding of the Marcos family name 36 years after his father’s tenure was terminated by a “people power” rebellion.

Political observers say his rise to the presidency has been facilitated by a decades-long public relations campaign aimed at changing public view of his family, even as critics accuse the Marcoses of seeking to rewrite history.

“I think they (the Marcos campaign) have…the advantage of developing an appealing narrative, which we know distorts historical fact but has nevertheless resonated to many voters,” retired political professor Temario Rivera said.

Even as adversaries seek to highlight the theft of the country’s wealth during his late father’s harsh authoritarian dictatorship, Marcos has pushed a theme of unity in his campaign.

In a mid-April poll done by independent pollster Pulse Asia, 56 percent of 2,400 respondents said they would vote for Marcos if the election was held during that period, while 23% said they would back Robredo.

Manny Pacquiao, the former boxing champion, and Francisco Domagoso, the mayor of Manila, had 7% and 4% support, respectively. Saturday is the last day of official campaigning.

Robredo challenged Marcos to a debate last week so that voters could examine their personalities and visions, but the former senator declined, stating that he preferred to speak directly to the public.

The two share a fierce rivalry, with Robredo firmly aligned with the movement that marched to the streets in 1986 to depose his father.

Despite Marcos’ clear advantage, Robredo has drawn tens of thousands of people to her recent campaign rallies, support that some analysts believe was not fully recorded in the most recent poll.

“We’re feeling positive heading into the final week of the campaign,” Robredo added campaign spokesperson Barry Gutierrez.

Marcos, 64, has stated that he will not be distracted from the work required to achieve victory by his good performance in surveys.

On Tuesday, Robredo and Marcos will have rallies in the central Philippines, with the leader in the province of Iloilo and his opponent in Panay Island and Bacolod City.

By 12news World

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