Allegations of dirty tricks mark final days of Philippines election campaign

ROBREDO… drew feverish support from young progressive Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines (AFP) – Filipino election rivals traded allegations of dirty tricks and vote-rigging on Friday, in the home stretch of a bitter campaign that is expected to bring the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to power .

After months of fierce campaigning marked by relentless misinformation and online whitewashing of the country’s violent history, rivals Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Leni Robredo have gotten involved in underhanded tactics.

Marcos Jr – the son of late dictator and notoriously kleptocratic first lady Imelda Marcos – is expected to win Monday’s poll by a landslide.

On Friday, Marcos’ campaign urged supporters to “protect” their votes from unspecified attempts at voter fraud.

” We already won ! said Marcos Jr. “Just make sure to keep the votes on Monday – don’t sleep… we know when we sleep a lot of undesirable things happen.”

Marcos’ campaign also accused Robredo of being “toxic, divisive and acrimonious” and of “associating” with obscure political groups.

Robredo campaigned on a promise to clean up the Philippines’ chronically corrupt politics.

The 57-year-old lawyer, and current vice president, has drawn feverish support from young progressive Filipinos.

Despite her deficit in the opinion polls, few are willing to rule her out entirely, as feverish rumors swirl about the accuracy of polls that currently put her at 23% of the vote to Marcos’ 56%.

While all remains to be played, her campaign filed a lawsuit on Friday to push back potentially damaging rumors that she is in cahoots with the Communist Party.

Unproven allegations that party founder Jose Maria Sison, who lives in exile in the Netherlands, was advising his campaign have recently surfaced in Marcos-allied media.

In a complaint affidavit filed with the prosecutor’s office, Robredo’s spokesperson called the allegations “fabricated” and “fictitious.”

“It crossed a line,” Barry Gutierrez told reporters.

“He’s not a vlogger, he’s not some random social media influencer making reviews. He’s supposedly a respectable member of the journalism profession.

Despite the lack of evidence, allegations have been widely circulated about Facebookextremely popular in the Philippines, with hundreds of thousands of interactions.

Misinformation seeking to discredit Robredo as stupid, hostile or even communist surged during election season.

Communist rebels led a decades-long insurgency in the country.

Red-flagging – accusing someone of being a communist sympathizer – intensified under President Rodrigo Duterte and led to the death of many activists, journalists and lawyers.

Robredo hit back on Friday, accusing Marcos Jr of being a “liar”.

“I pity the Filipinos who were cheated by him,” she told reporters in the central town of Sorsogon.

The allegations against Robredo echo the elder Ferdinand Marcos’ tactics of discrediting enemies, vindicating his dictatorial regime and retaining US Cold War support by playing the specter of impending Red Peril who was determined to take control of the country.

For much of the campaign, Marcos Jr avoided detailed political statements, instead presenting himself as uniquely qualified to “unify” the nation.

He also described his father’s reign – which saw widespread human rights abuses, endemic corruption, international stigma and the cratering of the Philippine economy – as a golden age.

Behind the scenes, he has built a powerful coalition of the country’s ruling families that can provide mass voting blocs.

Marcos’ running mate is Sarah Duterte, the incumbent president’s daughter, who enjoys strong national support for her outspoken political style and a bloody war on drugs that rights groups say has killed dozens of people. thousands of people in extrajudicial executions.

The duo’s campaign on Friday promised to reopen the economy after COVID-19 shutdowns, invest in infrastructure and continue Rodrigo Duterte’s “campaign against illegal drugs and crime” which is the subject of criticism. an investigation by the International Criminal Court.

But the prospect of a Marcos presidency has alarmed rights groups and Catholic church leaders, who doubt his commitment to democracy and fear his administration will weaken checks and balances on governance and does not aggravate corruption.

MARCOS JR… set to win Monday’s poll by a landslide

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