A PRESIDENTIAL candidate who has been compared with Hitler looks set to become the new President of the Philippines amid fears the country will again become a dictatorship.

Seven people were killed yesterday as voters went to the polls in what has been the most controversial election since dictator Ferdinand Marcos was toppled in 1986.

The seven were shot by unknown gunmen south of the capital Manila.

Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has raised the temperature of the election with claims he would “butcher” criminals and a “joke” that as mayor of Davao he should have been first in line in the gang rape of an Australian missionary who was killed during a prison riot.

Duterte, who has been mayor of Davao for over 22 years, later apologised for the “joke”.

Despite declaring he will ignore democratic rules if he believes they are obstructing solutions to the many problems besetting the Philippines, many yesterday turned out to vote for him in the hope that he will reduce the corruption and poverty that blights the country.

Outgoing President Benigno Aquino has warned that if Duterte is elected it could result in a dictatorship.

Aquino compared the rise of “The Punisher” to that of Hitler’s before the Second World War. Duterte retorted that the outgoing president was the “son of a whore”.


POLITICAL commentators have compared Duterte’s success with that of Donald Trump as both men were not initially considered a threat by the establishment.

It is Duterte’s anti-establishment stance that has appealed to voters and may also propel Ferdinand Marcos Jnr into the vice-presidency even though he is the former dictator’s son.

It is because the Philippines were so badly scarred by the Marcos regime that the outgoing president has only had six years in the role.

A rule that only one term could be served by any president was introduced after Marcos was overthrown but it means that Aquino cannot continue the small progress he has made.

There is no doubt he has performed better than his predecessors with foreign direct investment quadrupling, the budget deficit falling and spending increasing on schools, infrastructure and rural development.

However while the middle classes may be feeling a slight benefit, circumstances have not changed for the poor.

The slums in the capital stand testament to the fact that poverty has not been reduced over the last decade despite economic growth of around six per cent.

On top of this there is the conflict on Mindanao where rebels have sworn allegiance to Islamic militant group Daesh. There is also a dispute with China over territory in the South China Sea.

Duterte is adamant that the area belongs to the Philippines and has questioned the US’s commitment to taking his country’s side in the dispute.


DUTERTE wants to end an agreement that allows the US military to perform exercises in the Philippines. He also claims he will end corruption and the illegal drug trade in the Philippines in just half a year.

However human rights activists say that as mayor he ordered death squads to murder over 1000 alleged criminals.

“Forget the laws on human rights,” he said during the election campaign. “If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because … I’d kill you.”

There are over 7000 islands in the Philippines, although most of the 96.5m population live on just 11. The country has to endure frequent earthquakes, typhoons, and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes.

Named after a 16th century King of Spain, the Philippines were a Spanish colony for over three centuries but at the turn of the 20th century Spain ceded the islands to the US following the Spanish-American War.

Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II but the islands were retaken by the US then granted full independence in 1946.

Marcos was elected as president in 1965 but declared martial law in 1972 then was ousted in a revolt in 1986.


MANY voters have since become frustrated with the political scene which is dominated by a small clique of wealthy families.

“The competition for the presidency has essentially become a battle between ‘status quo’ candidates and ‘sharp turn’ candidates,” said Asia analyst Eufracia Taylor of consultancy Verisk Maplecroft. “The public is split between supporters for a president seen as safe hands or one who will drive drastic, and potentially divisive, change.”

Many believe the only beneficiaries of the recent economic growth have been the oligarchs in the country which is why around one third of voters were expected to vote for Duterte yesterday.

Other candidates included Grace Poe, who was adopted as a child by film stars, and Mar Roxas, whose grandfather was the first president of the Republic and is a former New York investment banker. Human rights lawyer Jejomar Binay, who was jailed during the Marcos regime for defending political prisoners, also stood as did former judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago who is currently a senator but has been dogged by rumours that she is battling ill health after being diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago.