Philippine elections

Duterte won 76.6% of votes in Singapore

Election tarpaulins featuring Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte in Davao.
Election tarpaulins featuring Philippine presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte in Davao.PHOTO: AFP

Tired of crime and poverty in their home country, Filipinos in Singapore overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, giving him 76.6 per cent of the 39,659 votes cast here. Mr Mar Roxas, 58, came in a distant second with 9.4 per cent, according to the Philippine Embassy.

Members of the local Filipino community told The Straits Times they supported the controversial Mr Duterte as a force for change.

Mr Elmer G. de Leon, 37, retail manager of MJ's Provision Mart, said: "He is the only one among all candidates who prioritises criminality, corruption and poverty as problems our country faces."

For Mr Eduardo Gonzales, 60, owner of the Barrio Fiesta Restaurant - who joked that he would buy a plot of land in the Philippines after Mr Duterte's victory - his desire to see change was so great that it spurred him to vote for the first time since his arrival in Singapore 23 years ago.

"I voted this time as I felt that my children and grandchildren growing up in the Philippines have no hope with our current government," he said.

Following a fiery campaign in which he vowed to kill criminals and jokingly wished he had been first in line to rape a murdered Australian missionary, Mr Duterte, 71, secured a huge win to become the Philippines' next president.

Supporters here pointed to his nearly 22 years of experience as the mayor of Davao city as proof of his ability to enact serious change.

Mr Benjamin Yap, who once lived in Davao for a month, is hoping to see the city's "excellent" state projected onto a national scale. The 38-year-old director of courier company Metrobox said: "I was very impressed by the infrastructural progress and safety of Davao. High crime rates for me are the biggest problem."

Many stayed up late to watch the proceedings, including Ms Remy Reynaldo, 43, co-owner of Filipino eatery Inasal, who said: "I was so scared that there would be a case of electoral fraud. I prayed earnestly that there would be no sudden change."

One Filipino who did not vote for Mr Duterte was Mr Alex Montepio, who said: "Duterte kept changing his mind. At first, he said he didn't want to run for president, but he ended up doing it anyway."

The 41-year-old voted for Mr Roxas, in the hope that he would continue the legacy of outgoing President Benigno Aquino.

Most of those interviewed were rooting for Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr in the vice-presidential race.

Ms Garcia Elenie Gamet, 33, branch manager of Joe Employment, said: "Marcos is the best candidate to support Duterte. He was winning, but now I'm not so sure."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte won 76.6% of votes here'. Print Edition | Subscribe