MANILA, Philippines – Philippine lawmakers completed the official vote count from May 9 elections on Friday and announced that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency by an overwhelming margin, while Rep. Leni Robredo triumphed as vice president.
Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of southern Davao city, received more than 16.6 million votes, 6.6 million more than his closest rival, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was backed by outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.
About 81 percent of more than 54 million eligible voters cast ballots for a successor to Aquino and thousands of other national, congressional and local officials whose terms end on June 30, according to lawmakers and official figures released by Congress.
Duterte had led by a wide margin in an earlier unofficial count, and most of his rivals have conceded defeat. The vice presidential race, however, was closely fought.
Robredo, who was also backed by Aquino, received more than 14.4 million votes, according to the official count, just 263,000 more than Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of a dictator ousted in a 1986 “people power” revolt sparked by widespread human rights abuses and corruption.
Presidents and vice presidents are elected separately in the Philippines, and often are from different parties.
It was not immediately clear if Robredo’s victory would be contested by Marcos, who has raised suggestions of election irregularities.
“It was a very divisive and difficult election,” Robredo said in a TV interview. “We need to rebuild as one country and President Duterte really needs all our help.”
Robredo, a lawyer who has helped the poor with free legal services, said she learned of her victory while she was with her daughters at a cemetery in her home province southeast of Manila to mark the 58th birthday of her late husband, a reformist politician who perished in a 2012 plane crash.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who helped oversee the vote count, said Congress will officially proclaim Duterte and Robredo as winners on Monday.
Duterte, 71, who has stayed mostly in Davao city since the elections, did not immediately comment. He has said he does not plan to attend his proclamation as president-elect in metropolitan Manila.
The outcome of the official count cements the stunning political rise of Duterte, who won on an audacious promise to eradicate crime and corruption within six months as president. The pledge resonated among many crime-weary Filipinos, although police officials have said it is impossible to accomplish, noting that crime continues to hound Davao city, where the president-elect has served as mayor on and off for more than 22 years.
Human rights groups have also been alarmed by Duterte, who they suspect instigated the extrajudicial killings of many crime suspects by motorcycle-riding gunmen dubbed the Davao death squads in his city. The suspicions have been bolstered by Duterte’s public threats to kill drug dealers and other criminals.
Aquino, the son of democracy champions who fought against Marcos’ dictator father, campaigned against Duterte, saying he may become a dictator.
Duterte has been likened to presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump because of his brash rhetoric and unorthodox political style. The Filipino politician detests the comparison, saying Trump is a bigot and he is not.
He has said he plans to offer four Cabinet positions to designated allies of communist guerrillas who have been waging a decades-long insurgency in the poor Southeast Asian country.
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