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2016 Elections

The President of Philippines is directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a single 6-year term. The year 2016 witnessed an acrimonious election campaign that revealed popular disgust with the country’s ruling elite for failing to tackle poverty and inequality despite years of robust economic growth.

By 15 October 2015 three major candidates signed up to run in the Philippines presidential election slated 09 May 2016. Former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, President Benigno Aquino's Liberal Party pick, and independent senator Grace Poe filed their candidacy. Earlier, the current vice president, Jejomar Binay, from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) opposition party, filed his candidacy. Binay had been a household name in the Philippines since the 1980s, having been a human rights lawyer during the martial law period.

In the Philippines, the president and vice president are picked in separate elections, even though they may campaign as part of a team. At issue in the election was whether to continue Aquino's policy of fighting corruption and fiscal reconstruction or put greater emphasis on anti-poverty measures and infrastructure building under a new administration. With an opinion survey showing the support rate of about 20 percent for all 3 candidates, a close race was expected.

Elections for executive and legislative branches for national, provincial, and local levels of government were planned on 09 May 2016 in the Philippines. Over 16,000 elected positions were up for grabs in the May polls. The positions of President and Vice President are elected separately, and the winning candidates may come from different political parties. President Benigno Aquino is barred from seeking another term due to term limits in this sixth presidential election since the 1986 revolution that overthrew the authoritarian regime of then-President Ferdinand Marcos.

Both outsiders, a neophyte senator Grace Poe and a mayor from Mindanao Rody Duterte, had good chances of winning the presidency. Mayor Rody Duterte, in particular, generated a lot of buzz in social media and is leading in the polls. Duterte ran as a PDP-Laban candidate but relied heavily on volunteers, while Poe ran as an independent.

Two veteran national politicians, former interior secretary Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay, could still win. Binay and Roxas had political parties and vaunted local machineries, but conventional wisdom had members of those political parties and machineries abandoning them if they were deemed unwinnable.

The VP elections is separate from the presidential contest. In all but one of post-1986 presidential elections, the winner of the VP race was not the running mate of the winning presidential candidate.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was the sole candidate to top the Pulse Asia presidential survey released April 12, 2016. The poll was conducted by Pulse Asia in partnership with the ABS-CBN on March 29 to April 3 among 4,000 registered voters nationwide. With 30 percent of the support among the respondents, Duterte established a clear lead over his rival, Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares with 25 percent of support. Vice President Jejomar Binay and Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas, Aquino's anointed successor, were seen in statistical tie at the third place with 20 and 19 percent, respectively.

For the vice presidential survey, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. took the lead with 28 percent. Camarines Representative Leni Robredo landed on the second spot with 22 per cent. Senator Francis Escudero gained 21 percent of votes; Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, 15 percent, Senator Antonion Trillanes IV, five percent, and Gregorio Honasan III, 4 percent.

Duterte vowed to ride a jet ski to the nearest disputed island occupied by China in the South China Sea to personally stake the Philippines' claim. Binay vowed to defend Philippine sovereignty over the Spratly Islands while improving economic ties with China. Poe vowed to encourage companies to end labor contractualization - the practice of terminating workers every five months. Roxas wants to continue peace talks with Muslim rebels and build more roads and bridges in the Mindanao region. Senator Grace Poe, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II noted that the international community supports the Philippines in an arbitration case it has lodged in The Hague over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea/West Philippines Sea.

Poe, said that the country should strengthen its coast guard to protect the rights of its fishermen. "The West Philippine Sea is not a personal aquarium of the Chinese. It's ours and we should persuade our allies. If they are true friends, they should help us and we should not give that up," the independent candidate added.

At least 50 people, or an average of nearly one person every two days, were killed during the 119-day election period since Jan. 10, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported 08 May 2016. The PNP released the data on election-related violence on the eve of election day. PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said that from Jan. 10 to May 8, the police recorded 146 “election incident concerns” in 18 regions nationwide. “Out of 146 cases, 28 were validated to be election related. Out of this 28, 50 were killed, nine injured, and 43 unharmed, for a total of 67 victims,” Mayor said. Out of 146 incidents, 60 cases were not election related, and 58 are suspected to be in relation to the run up to the elections.

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