Friday 30 September 2016

Marcos Jr asks for unofficial vote count to be halted

Published 10/05/2016 | 13:11

Vice presidential candidate Sen Ferdinand
Vice presidential candidate Sen Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr waves to supporters (AP)

The late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos' son, who is running for vice president, has called for a stop to an unofficial vote count that shows his rival has overtaken him.

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Sen Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr's campaign said it sent an urgent request to the Commission on Elections to halt a tally released by an accredited citizen's group, saying the results showed "an alarming and suspicious trend" contrary to independent exit polls and the campaign's estimates, according to his adviser, Rep Jonathan dela Cruz.

If Mr Marcos wins, that would put him a step away from the presidency 30 years after his father was ousted by a public uprising amid plunder allegations and widespread human rights abuses.

His rival, Congresswoman Leni Robredo, was ahead by 200,000 votes, putting her half a percentage point ahead of Marcos as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the unofficial count. Earlier counts had Marcos in the lead.

Official results will not be released for at least another two weeks. The Philippines elects the president and vice president separately.

Ms Robredo, a lawyer for the poor and the widow of a well-loved politician, has denied cheating.

She thanked her supporters at a news conference, but said the count was not yet over. She asked all to remain calm and respect whatever results come out of what she said were clean and orderly elections.

She promised full support for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has cemented his lead in the Philippine presidential election, in case she wins.

The election commission has yet to formally receive Mr Marcos' request and the insinuations of irregularities are based on a partial and unofficial count, according to James Jimenez, a commission spokesman.

Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the country's 1987 constitution and former elections commission head, welcomed Ms Robredo's lead.

"We have a problem if Bongbong Marcos wins because there are still many cases against the Marcoses," he said, pointing out that the country has recovered only 3.7 billion US dollars (£2.5bn) of the estimated 10 billion US dollars (£7bn) the family allegedly stole from government coffers.

The Marcos family fled to Hawaii four days after massive street protests, where rosary-clutching nuns and ordinary citizens knelt before tanks and protesters stuck yellow flowers into the muzzles of assault rifles of pro-government troops. His father died in exile.

After his family's return to the country in 1991, Mr Marcos Jr became governor, congressman and in 2010 a senator.

President Benigno Aquino III, whose parents were democracy champions who helped topple the senior Marcos, also campaigned against Mr Marcos Jr, who has never clearly apologised for abuses of his father.

"If he couldn't even see what was wrong in what their family did, how can we expect that he won't repeat these?" Mr Aquino said during a ceremony in February commemorating the revolt's anniversary.

Press Association

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