MANILA (AFP, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN) - One of the first things Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte did after winning the Philippines presidential election by a landslide was to visit his parents' tomb and weep.
Mr Duterte, 71, arrived at his parents' grave at the Davao public cemetery at about 3am on Tuesday (May 10) following a two-hour television interview as vote-counting showed him on track to become the country's next president.
Facing the tomb of his mother, Soledad, the mayor was filmed weeping uncontrollably as he asked for help and guidance. His right hand was clenched in a fist.
He then bowed on his father’s grave and kissed the marble casing before digging his face in his arms. Mr Duterte’s father, Vicente, was governor of the still-undivided Davao del Sur. His mother was a teacher.
Mr Duterte, an anti-establishment firebrand, has secured a huge win in the Philippine presidential elections, according to counts by various organisations, after an incendiary campaign dominated by his profanity-laced vows to kill criminals.
The longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao hypnotised millions with his vows of brutal but quick solutions to the nation's twin plagues of crime and poverty, which many believed had worsened despite strong economic growth in recent years.
By evening on Tuesday, the rolling ballot count showed Mr Duterte had almost 15.6 million votes. He was more than 6 million votes ahead of the second-placed candidate, establishment pick Mar Roxas, with about 94 per cent of votes counted from an electorate of 54 million.
Voter turnout was a record 81.62 per cent of the 54 million eligible voters, more than the average 75 per cent of the previous elections.
"It's with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people," Mr Duterte told AFP early Tuesday morning as the results came in.
"What I can promise you is that I will do my very best not just in my waking hours but even in my sleep."
Former interior minister Roxas conceded defeat on Tuesday. "I wish you success, Mayor Duterte. Your victory is the nation's victory," said Mr Roxas in a news conference.
"We have fought the good fight and kept the faith in the race. It has been an honour to wave our flag."
Senator Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars, collected 8.5 million votes and had already conceded just after midnight Tuesday.
"As a staunch supporter of electoral reform, I have a firm belief in the voice and sentiment of our people. I honour the result of our elections," Ms Poe told reporters in Manila.
"I congratulate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and pledge my support in working to heal our land and to unite our people toward the continued development of our country."
In the Philippines, a winner is decided simply by whomever gets the most votes.
Mr Duterte, a pugnacious 71-year-old, surged from outsider to the top of surveys with cuss-filled vows to kill tens of thousands of criminals, threats to establish one-man rule if lawmakers disobeyed him and promises to embrace communist rebels.
He also boasted repeatedly about his Viagra-fuelled affairs, while promising voters his mistresses would not cost a lot because he kept them in cheap boarding houses and took them to short-stay hotels for sex.
He caused further disgust in international diplomatic circles with a joke that he wanted to rape a "beautiful" Australian missionary who was killed in a 1989 Philippine prison riot, and by calling the pope a "son of a whore".
Departing President Benigno Aquino, whose mother led the democracy movement that ousted Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago, had warned repeatedly the nation was at risk of succumbing to another dictatorship.
"I need your help to stop the return of terror in our land. I cannot do it alone," Mr Aquino said in an appeal to voters in a final rally on Saturday in Manila for Mr Roxas, his preferred successor and fellow Liberal Party stalwart.
But the president's spokesman said on Tuesday that Malacanang Palace accepts the outcome of the election.
"Our people have spoken and their verdict is accepted and respected," Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement issued past noontime.
"The path of good governance or Daang Matuwid is already established as all presidential candidates spoke out against corruption, and in favour of continuing and expanding present pro-poor programmes, and pursuing more initiatives to sustain the strong economy and achieve inclusive growth."
In his final rally on Saturday, Mr Duterte repeated to tens of thousands of cheering fans his plans to end crime within six months of starting his presidency.
"Forget the laws on human rights," said Mr Duterte, who has been accused of running vigilante death squads in Davao.
"If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because as the mayor, I'd kill you."
Mr Aquino, who is limited by the constitution to a single term of six years, had overseen average annual economic growth of 6 per cent and won international plaudits for trying to tackle corruption.
However, his critics said he had done little to change an economic model that favours an extraordinarily small number of families that control nearly all key industries, and has led to one of Asia's biggest rich-poor divides.
This criticism hurt Mr Roxas, a member of the wealthy classes widely seen by many as lacking empathy for the poor.
Another key message of Mr Duterte's campaign was his pledge to take on the elite, even though his vice-presidential running mate was from one of the nation's richest and most powerful families.
Ms Poe had seen her popularity slide after critics pointed to her taking US citizenship then later giving it up.
Vice-President Jejomar Binay, the early favourite, was in a distant fourth place, according to the poll monitor, after crumbling under the weight of a barrage of corruption allegations.
In an intriguing sub-plot, former dictator Marcos's son and namesake, Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr, was locked in a dead heat with pro-poor Congresswoman Leni Robredo to be elected vice-president.
The contest remained close as of Tuesday evening, with Mrs Robredo overtaking Mr Marcos Jr, whose dictator father was ousted in 1986, with a lead of about 225,000 votes.