Marcos Jr. visits father’s grave as he widens lead

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FERDINAND R. Marcos, Jr., the only son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator, visited the grave of his father on Wednesday, as he widened his lead against his closest rival in the presidential election to more than 16 million votes.

Based on partial and unofficial results with 98.3% of the vote counted, Mr. Marcos, better known as “Bongbong,” had 31.09 million votes as of 5 p.m., more than double that of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo.

He will be the first candidate to win a majority in a presidential election since his father’s two-decade rule.

Mr. Marcos’ Twitter page showed photos of him placing flowers on his father’s grave at a national cemetery in Taguig City near Manila, the capital.  Another photo showed him standing in front of a large photo of the dictator beside the grave while covering his face with his right hand.

Mr. Marcos, who shied away from debates and interviews during the campaign, recently praised his father as a genius and a statesman but has also been irked by questions about the martial law era.

His landslide victory heralds the return to power of the country’s most notorious political family.

Mr. Marcos fled into exile in Hawaii with his family during a 1986 “people power” street uprising that ended his father’s autocratic 20-year rule. He has served as a congressman and senator since his return to the Philippines in 1991.

Several of Mr. Marcos’ presidential rivals have conceded, including Manila Mayor Francisco M. Domagoso, labor leader Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman and Senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao.

The Commission on Elections en banc on Tuesday affirmed the dismissal of several motions seeking to overturn the dismissal of disqualification cases against him.

The Senate, which will tally the votes for president and vice-president together with the House of Representatives, had received three certificates of canvass as of Wednesday morning, it said in a statement. Ballot boxes containing the certificates came from Malabon City, Cambodia and Vietnam,

The certificates and election returns are brought to the Senate before they are delivered to the House of Representatives where the canvassing will take place.

As of Wednesday noon, Comelec had finished validating 32 certificates of canvass out of 327 that will be included in the official tally of votes for the senatorial and party-list race, Election Commission George Erwin M. Garcia told a news briefing.

Comelec spokesman John Rex C. Laudiangco said they expect to proclaiming the winning senators this week.

As of Wednesday, about 835 cities and towns have proclaimed local winners, he said.

Mr. Garcia said about 2% of clustered precincts have yet to transmit their election results.

CONTEMPT CASEUnder the 1987 Constitution, both houses will hold a joint public session to canvass the votes for president and vice-president and proclaim the winners.

Mr. Sotto said there should be 173 ballot boxes in total, including certificates of canvass from overseas. He earlier said they expect to proclaim the winners by May 27 or 28.

In a related development, Marcos’s spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez declined to answer questions about how he plans to handle a United States contempt case against his family.

“Next question please,” he said at a news conference when asked to comment on the suit, which could prevent Mr. Marcos from visiting the US as Philippine president. 

The US Court of Appeals has ordered Mr. Marcos and her mother Imelda to pay $353.6 million (P18.46 billion) for violating a US court order not to dissipate their assets, which have been earmarked as compensation for the victims of his father’s martial rule. 

If Mr. Marcos refuses to pay or face a subpoena while in the US, the court could hold him in criminal contempt and imprison him until he answers questions about their assets, according to Robert Swift, a US lawyer who is working to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten assets, based on a report by Rappler, Inc.

Mr. Rodriguez’s refusal to answer the question gives Filipinos a glimpse of how the incoming government will treat the media, said Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines.

“The campaign team and Mr. Rodriguez follow a strategy of evading questions that would put Marcos in a bad light,” she said in a Viber message. “Declining to answer questions and distracting people by focusing on trivial issues and motherhood statements indicate a lack of accountability and respect for both the media and the public.” — Norman P. Aquino, Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and John Victor D. Ordoñez

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