[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Violence casts shadow over Philippines vote

Deadly attacks precede elections with at least 50 people killed, five of them reported murdered on eve of contest.

Last Modified: 12 May 2013 10:15
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A host of colourful names are contesting the elections including former Philippine President Joseph Estrada [AFP]

The Philippines is preparing to hold mid-term elections seen as crucial to President Benigno Aquino's efforts to transform society, but deadly violence, corruption and nepotism has so far overshadowed campaigning.

On Monday, more than 18,000 positions will be contested in the race - from the town level up to the nation's Congress - and Aquino is banking on landslide wins for his allies to cement his reform agenda.

"The president needs to be able to have a strong coalition in both houses of Congress to be able to push through critical measures," Budget Secretary and ruling Liberal Party powerbroker Florencio Abad told the AFP news agency.

More than 50 people have already been killed in election-related violence, including candidates and their aides, and the military and police will be on high alert to stamp out any last-minute attacks.

On Sunday, police and the military said that five people were killed in separate ambushes in the country's south, and a radio reporter was kidnapped by armed men.

Two men armed with short firearms abducted radio journalist Melinda Jennifer Glifonea at dawn on Sunday at a restaurant in Candelaria, a farming town three hours south of Manila.

"We are not discounting the possibility it could be related to her work," local police spokesman Chief Inspector Edcille Canals said.

He said Glifonea was known to carry stinging political commentary on her show at the local 103.1 FM Edgeradio but did not elaborate.

'Sick man of Asia'

Since taking office in 2010 following a landslide election win, Aquino has maintained record high popularity ratings while overseeing strong economic growth and efforts to tackle corruption that have won international acclaim.

The president needs to be able to have a strong coalition in both houses of Congress to be able to push through critical measures

- Florencio Abad, Budget Secretary,

In the Philippines, presidents can only serve one term of six years, and Aquino has said he is determined to leave a permanent legacy that will ensure the Philippines is no longer the "sick man of Asia".

One key plank is ending a decades-long Muslim rebellion in the south of the country that has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives and stifled economic growth.

Aquino is close to signing a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main rebel group, but he will then need Congress to endorse the pact.
All the seats in the lower house and half in the Senate are being contested in the mid-term elections.
 
The Philippines has a plethora of parties, and politicians frequently shift allegiances, so controlling parliament is extremely difficult.
But Aquino secured support for key reform initiatives in his first three years in office, and he is confident that big victories in both chambers on Monday will ensure an even more productive second half of his term.

Abad said other initiatives that Aquino was eyeing over the next three years included expanding the tax base to pay for a better social safety net, and reform of the mining sector so that big firms pay higher taxes.

Colourful candidates

A host of colourful names are contesting the elections, including boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, who is seeking a second term as a member of the lower house.

His wife, Jinkee, is running to become vice governor of a southern province despite having no political experience, while one of his brothers is also running for Congress.

Imelda Marcos, wife of the late former president Ferdinand, is almost certain to win a second term in the lower house at the age of 83, representing a northern province where her family enjoys dynastic rule.

Her daughter is running unopposed for provincial governor.

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada is running for Mayor in Manila.

632

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
As nuclear age approaches eighth decade, visitors flock to historic bomb craters at New Mexico test sites.
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
join our mailing list