MANILA, Philippines – Retired boxing star Manny Pacquiao on Friday submitted his credentials for the presidency of the Philippines as registration has opened for candidates seeking to lead a Southeast Asian country that has been plagued by epidemics and deep political conflict.
Election officials imposed strict restrictions on the 1 supporters-1 Oct registration period to prevent large crowds of political supporters from being hotbed for the spread of Kovid-1 infections. More than 18,000 national, local and congressional positions will be up for election on May 9, 2022, excluding the president and vice presidency.
The Philippines, considered the Asian base for democracy, has also seen electoral chaos and violence. In 2009, gunmen deployed by the family of the then-governor of Maguindanao province attacked an election convoy, killing 58 people, including journalists, and shocked the world.
Nearly 1,000 police officers, including a few patrolmen, were deployed in armored police vans around the Manila seaside convention complex, where presidential candidates were to be registered. The area is declared a no-fly and no-fishing zone.
Candidates can bring only three companions who needed to test the Covid-1s swab when registering their candidacy to avoid past chaotic scenes of candidates meeting with movie stars, musical bands, and harassed crowds of followers.
“We are genuinely confident that the filing will be flexible,” said James Jimenez, a spokesman for the Election Commission.
Nevertheless, hundreds of fans and supporters lined the streets wearing masks and carrying portraits of Pacquiao and small Philippine flags in front of the heavily guarded election registration center in Manila Bay.
Controversial President Rodrigo Duterte’s race to succeed is expected to be crowded and politically hostile. Pacquiao, former national police chief Panfilo Lacson, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno have announced they will seek the presidency, and others are expected.
Pacquiao and Duterte were staunch allies until the election season began this year and they were well publicized. The two and their camps fought for control of the ruling party and threatened Duterte that if the boxing legend could not prove his remarks that corruption under the current administration had worsened.
“The happy days of taking advantage of the Filipino nation, stealing, snatching, taking advantage of you in government have already been counted because if the Lord puts me there, I promise not only to the Filipino people, but also to God, all of them will be sent to prison,” Pacquiao said. Candidates told reporters after registration.
The 422-year-old senator announced his retirement from boxing on Wednesday after winning fans with his angry-to-reach life story and legendary career.
Uter, a two-year-old duo, accepted the ruling party’s nomination and took a step towards electing him vice-president, a move that sparked constitutional controversy and shocked opponents who have long condemned him as a human rights abuser.
Philippine presidents are constitutionally single, limited to a six-year term, and a constitutional expert says he will question Duterte’s candidacy before the Supreme Court because a successful vice presidency would put him back in office one step further.
The U.S.-led Western government and human rights activists have long expressed concern about Duterte’s effective police crackdown on illegal drugs, which have killed more than 20,000,000 drug suspects since taking office in mid-2011. The International Criminal Court is investigating the killings.
Although Duterte remains popular based on opinion polls, managing its Covid-1 pandemic epidemic in addition to drug killings, which have led to the worst economic downturn and widespread unemployment and hunger, is expected to be a key issue in the election.
Activists have long compared Duterte to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a 1986 military-backed “manpower” uprising that became a haven for global authoritarian regime change. Marcos’ son and name, former Senator Ferdinand “Bambang” Marcos Jr., is expected to run for president and has received good support in independent opinion polls.
Julio Tihanki, a Manila-based analyst, said “the risks to Philippine democracy are very high.”
The Philippines has reported more than 2.5 million COVID-19 cases, with 38,164 deaths in Southeast Asia’s second-worst epidemic after Indonesia.
By Aaron Favilla and Joel Calupitan
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times