Manila: Philippine presidential candidates have wrapped up a fiesta-like campaign period of 90 days for Monday May 9 general election that decides the next six years of this Southeast Asian country of a 110 million population.
Over 65.8 million Filipinos will troop to 37,211 polling stations to elect a new president, Vice President, 12 senators, and over 300 members of the House of Representatives, reports Xinhua news agency.
Poll body data showed that over 18,000 national and local positions are up for grabs.
In April’s final opinion poll of registered voters, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 64, the son of former President Ferdinand Marcos, led Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, 56, and eight other candidates.
On Saturday, the last day of the campaign period, millions of Filipinos took to the streets to support their preferred presidential aspirants.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s camp claimed that up to a million attended the miting de avance of the candidate and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Saturday May 7 night in Paranaque City in the capital region.
In the Philippines, a miting de advance is traditionally the final campaign event for the candidates running for local and national posts.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called for unity, saying he longs for the day when Filipinos unite to better the country.
“Filipinos are starting to unite even before the election after heeding the message of our UniTeam,” he told his supporters wearing red and green, the campaign colour of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Carpio, respectively.
Robredo’s organisers claimed nearly 800,000 came to support the incumbent vice president and her running-mate, Senator Francisco Pangilinan, gathering at the heart of Makati City’s central business district in a final show of force on Saturday.
“Let’s celebrate a historic campaign tonight. Let’s go! Let’s win this for the Filipino people,” Robredo told her pink-clad supporters.
Boxing icon-turned-senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, 43, ended his campaign in his downtown of General Santos City in southern Philippines; Manila City Mayor and former actor Francisco Domagoso, 47, in the Tondo district in Manila City; and former-national-police-chief-turned senator Panfilo Lacson, 73, in his hometown of Cavite province.
For the past three months, presidential aspirants crisscrossed the archipelago to win the hearts and minds of voters amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the campaign trail, politicians seek first to entertain voters by singing and dancing on stage and even hire popular actors to join them in the hustings.
After entertaining the crowd, they also discuss how they intend to revitalise the economy amid the lingering pandemic, reduce unemployment, and stamp out pervasive corruption.
This year, drones and livestreaming have become new features of campaign rallies. Political candidates used drones to take aerial images and videos to post on social media platforms to capture the public’s attention.