Candidate for Philippine presidency dies days after withdrawing from race

Former envoy and labour official Roy Seneres.
Former envoy and labour official Roy Seneres. PHOTO: INQUIRER.NET/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MANILA - A lawmaker who withdrew his bid to become the Philippines' next president just days ago died on Monday (Feb 8) morning after a long bout with diabetes.

Representative Roy Seneres, a former envoy and labour official, suffered cardiopulmonary arrest at around 8am at a local hospital, his family announced. He was 68.

Mr Seneres had been the sixth candidate that the elections commission allowed to run for president.

On Friday (Feb 5), Mr Seneres announced that he was heeding his doctor's advice and withdrawing his candidacy. He said the stress of campaigning had been taking a toll on his health.

Mr Seneres, who gained prominence in Philippine politics when he helped save a Filipino maid from the gallows in 1995 when he was ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, had been trailing in polls on who voters prefer to succeed President Benigno Aquino.

There had been reports that he withdrew from the race in favour of a more viable candidate, former mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was his fraternity brother at San Beda College in Manila.

Two Supreme Court justices from the same fraternity were said to have pressured him to give way to Mr Duterte.

Mr Duterte, 70, who has enthralled voters with outlandish and often expletive-laden take on politics, is tied for second - along with Vice-President Jejomar Binay, 73, and former interior minister Mar Roxas, 58 - in recent surveys.

They all trail Senator Grace Poe, 47, the daughter of a Filipino movie icon.

Campaigning for over 18,000 national and local posts officially starts on Tuesday (Feb 9).

Some 56 million voting-age Filipinos are expected to head to polling stations on May 9 to choose the nation's next president.