Philippine presidential candidates rally with supporters as election approaches

BenarNews staff
2022.03.16
Manila and other Philippine cities
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Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., wearing a red shirt – his campaign’s official color – speaks during a rally at a sports stadium in Santa Rosa, near Manila, March 11, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

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Vice President Leni Robredo takes a selfie with supporters in Basilan, southern Philippines, as she campaigns for president, March 16, 2022. [Handout photo from VP Leni Media Bureau]

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Retired boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is running for president, greets supporters during a rally at a Manila convention center, March 14, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

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Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (left) joins running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio (center) and senate candidate Jinggoy Estrada during a campaign rally in Santa Rosa, near Manila, March 11, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

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A Filipina shows her support for the Marcos campaign by wearing a red balloon as a hat during the Santa Rosa rally, March 11, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

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Two supporters, including one too young to vote, attend the Marcos rally in Santa Rosa, March 11, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

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Supporters greet Leni Robredo during the presidential candidate’s campaign swing in Butuan city, southern Philippines, March 9, 2022. [Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews]

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Some rain could not stop Filipinos from showing their support for Vice President Leni Robredo during a rally in southern Butuan city, March 9, 2022. [Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews]

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Supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo hold out roses for the presidential candidate during the rally in Butuan city, March 9, 2022. [Froilan Gallardo/BenarNews]

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Retired boxing champion Manny Pacquiao (right) gestures during a news conference after his presidential campaign rally in Manila, March 14, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

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Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. addresses supporters during a campaign rally at a sports stadium in Santa Rosa, near Manila, March 11, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

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Presidential candidate Leni Robredo (center, with pink mask) greets supporters during a campaign rally in Butuan city, southern Philippines, March 9, 2022. [Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews]

Updated at 8:07 a.m. ET on 2022-03-17

With less than two months left until the Philippine elections, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is polling far ahead of other presidential candidates, according to a recent survey, but Vice President Leni Robredo, the next top contender, is drawing big crowds on the campaign trail. 

A survey conducted by pollster Pulse Asia from Feb. 18-23, but whose results were released only this week, shows Marcos, the son and namesake of the late Filipino dictator, drawing support from 60 percent of those surveyed about the presidential race.

His closest rival, Robredo, has 15 percent support and is trailed by other serious candidates, including former world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Manila mayor Francisco Domagoso and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Despite Marcos’ poll lead, some sections of a sports stadium in Santa Rosa city – just south of Manila – were empty during a March 11 rally for the presumed frontrunner.

“I wanted to see what this was all about,” said Merly San Juan, 33, who traveled to the site with her daughter. “We heard there was free food and some entertainers.”

They both wore red shirts proclaiming “Uniteam,” the campaign slogan of Marcos Jr. and his running-mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio. The vice-presidential candidate serves as mayor of Davao City and is the daughter of Rodrigo Duterte, the incumbent president who will leave office after the May 9 general election because of term limits.

Robredo, meanwhile, has been drawing large crowds to her events. Unlike Marcos, she has not shied away from being hugged or touched by supporters.

On Wednesday, Robredo visited Basilan Island in the south, the birthplace of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, becoming the first presidential candidate to campaign there in 30 years.  

One of her supporters there spoke out against Marcos’ father, the president who ruled the Philippines for two decades, including 14 years of martial law, until a democratic uprising forced him to leave the country in 1986. He died in exile in Hawaii three years later.

“Let me remind everyone: The era of the dictator was a dark one, especially for the Moro people. Many were killed, tortured, or massacred, which forced people to pick up arms to fight for justice and eventually leave their homes,” Mujiv Hataman, a Muslim congressman representing Basilan, told reporters.

CORRECTION: An earlier version incorrectly referred to Santa Rosa as being located in the northern Philippines.

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