Foul-mouthed Duterte wins landslide victory

Top News | Mary Ann Benitez and agencies 11 May 2016

Rodrigo Duterte, a foul-mouthed mayor known as the "Punisher" who has promised to rid the Philippines of criminals and corruption within six months, won the presidential elections by a decisive margin.

After his two main rivals conceded defeat, Duterte, longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao, yesterday vowed a crackdown on crime and called for a new federal form of government after securing the victory with tirades that exposed voter anger at the establishment. But he also offered an olive branch to his rivals following a deeply divisive campaign that saw President Benigno Aquino brand him a dictator in the making who would bring terror to the nation.

"I want to reach out my hand and let us begin the healing now," Duterte said.

He is also willing to talk to Beijing over a sensitive territorial dispute in the South China Sea, his spokesman said, in a significant reversal of stance.

Duterte, 71, has an insurmountable lead of 6.1 million votes over his closest rival, Manuel "Mar" Roxas, a former interior secretary and grandson of a former president. Roxas, who was backed by Aquino, and Grace Poe, a popular junior senator who is the adopted daughter of two movie stars, conceded defeat.

Duterte has reportedly started forming a transition team.

The race for vice president, who is elected separately, is too close to call, with human rights lawyer Leni Robredo leading Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, the only son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, by about 230,000 votes.

Filipinos in Hong Kong generally voted for Duterte and for Marcos for the top two posts.

A political analyst, Reuben Mondejar, associate professor in the City University of Hong Kong's department of management, said Duterte needs to deliver on his self-set six- month deadline to reduce crime and poverty.

"People know he is vulgar and foul- mouthed, calling the pope the son of a bitch, but people voted for him. The voters are more intelligent than we think because in the end they deserve who they voted for," he said.

Mondejar said Duterte's votes came from the lower classes and he played on the desire of people for quick fixes to criminality and poverty. "Even if Aquino keeps on saying we have a growth record, that means nothing to the lower classes as the growth did not trickle down."

Meanwhile, boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, 37, is set to win a seat in the Senate, taking him a step closer to his dream of the Philippines presidency. Pacquiao placed eighth out of a field of 50 candidates in a national race where the top 12 win a seat in the upper house.

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