The counting of votes began after the polling booths were closed in the Philippines Presidential Elections. An unofficial and partial tally of 72 percent of the votes have revealed that leading candidate Bongbong Marcos has taken a clear lead.
The unofficial count by Comelec, the Philippines Commission on Elections, confirmed that the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos garnered 23.52 million votes, while his strongest rival and the only female candidate in the fray, Leni Robredo, received 11.18 million votes.
The election day in Philippines began with more than 60 million Filipinos getting ready to cast their votes to elect the next President along with 18,000 local officials from mayors to governors. The Commission on Elections, commonly referred to as the Comelec, reported the first batch of voters casting their ballots as 106,164 polling booths across the country open at sharp 6 in the morning.
Voting Precincts and Problems Encountered
Mask donned Filipinos began lining up outside voting precincts in the early hours of dawn. Given the violent political culture of the island country at least 60,000 security personnel stationed for the protection of elections workers and ballots, the armed forces chief, Lt Gen Andres Centino, stated that they were committed to ensuring "secure, accurate, free and fair elections", the Guardian reported.
With news of nearly 2,000 voting machines malfunctioning at booths, many voters were hesitant to cast their ballots. As the number of faulty VCMs accounted for 1.74% of the 107,345 machines being used, fifty-one machines of them were classified as defective, according to BBC reports.
Even though Comelec Commissioner George Garcia announced past 10 a.m. that 1,867 VCMs experiencing the glitch have already been resolved, frustrated voters who were told to either wait or came back again to vote took to social media complaining about the long lines and delays.
Election Linked Violence Reported
The relatively peaceful election was marred by a few violent incidents which alarmed the election officials. According to Bloomberg, the first occurred a day before the elections in Ilocos Sur province when a shooting was reported between supporters of opposing mayoral candidates where four people were killed and the other was a grenade attack just outside a polling precinct in Mindanao island, on the day of the elections which wounded 9 people but fortunately no casualties were reported.
Candidates Cast their Votes
In a race to succeed Rodrigo Duterte, the presidential hopeful Bongbong Marcos Jr. casted his vote in the country's north, the city of Batac, accompanied by his mother. The son the late dictator of Philippines, Marcos Jr. was seen leading the opinion polls by double-digits before the election day.
He was trailed closely by his strongest rival and the only female candidate in the race, Leni Robredo. Voting in her home province, Camarines Sur, Robredo voiced her concerns over the glitches in VCMs and the election-linked violence. The Vice-Presidential candidate and President Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte also casted her vote in the southern city of Davao.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno voted at a polling precinct in Tondo, Manila while former professional boxer and senator Manny Pacquiao was seen doing the same in the Municipality of Kiamba.
Concerns of the Voters
Majority of the voters voiced their concerns over the whitewashing campaign launched by Marcos Jr. to paint a 'holier-than-thou' image of his family's troubled past, despite his continuous rejection of the claims.
Several others casted their votes bearing in mind the future of democracy and human rights in their country. For the rest, economic stability took precedence over everything else, the reason being the constant reconstructions of buildings due to natural disasters striking the island nation, as per Al Jazeera reports.
As declared by the Comelec, the polls will remain open until 7 p.m. and the counting will start as soon as the ballots close. Covid-19 restrictions are expected to delay the process but attempts will be made to declare the winner within hours.