Duterte headed for big win in Philippine election

Supporters surrounding Mr Duterte after he cast his vote yesterday in Davao city. He is on track to become the next president of the Philippines, with unofficial results showing that he has an insurmountable lead over his rivals.
Supporters surrounding Mr Duterte after he cast his vote yesterday in Davao city. He is on track to become the next president of the Philippines, with unofficial results showing that he has an insurmountable lead over his rivals.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Firebrand candidate Rodrigo Duterte is on track to become the next president of the Philippines, with unofficial results showing him with an insurmountable lead over his rivals.

Senator Grace Poe, 47, conceded defeat last night and congratulated Mr Duterte.

As of midnight, with 81 per cent of the votes counted by the election watchdog, the 71-year-old tough- talking mayor of the southern city of Davao had 38.6 per cent, or 13.7 million votes. Trailing him were former interior minister Mar Roxas, 58, with 22.8 per cent, or 8.1 million votes, and Ms Poe with 21.8 per cent, or 7.7 million votes.

Bringing up the rear were Vice-President Jejomar Binay, 73, with 13 per cent, and Senator Miriam Santiago, 70, with 3.6 per cent.

The results reflect opinion polls that predicted a win for Mr Duterte. Despite scattered incidents of fraud and violence, he said he believes the results will be credible.

"This is a democracy and we have to obey the will of the people," he said in a TV interview.

With victory within his grasp, Mr Duterte extended an olive branch to his rivals last night.

"Let us begin the healing now," he told reporters. "We are responsible for the security of this nation. We are responsible for the integrity of this country."

But in typical tough-guy fashion, he also said: "If you accept my hand of friendship, fine. If you don't, there's always a time for everything - a time for reckoning and a time to know the truth."

With promises to end the plagues of crime and corruption, Mr Duterte positioned himself as the candidate who could shake up a system that many believe has favoured the rich.

In her statement, Ms Poe said: "We did everything we can... I am conceding to Rodrigo Duterte, who is clearly in the lead and has been chosen by our countrymen."

The race for the vice-presidency, meanwhile, remains close. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, with 35.4 per cent, or 12.2 million votes, led Representative Leni Robredo, President Benigno Aquino's bet, who had 34.6 per cent, or 11.9 million votes.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte headed for big win in Philippine election'. Print Edition | Subscribe