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Asia Minute: Questions Surround Election Season in the Philippines

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

We’re now less than five weeks away from the first voting of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. On the other side of the world from the Iowa caucuses, it’s also an election year in the Philippines.  And there’s been an important development in that contest.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

If you thought the U.S. presidential campaign season was a roller coaster, consider the Philippines for about a minute.  The presidential election is in May - and incumbent Benigno Aquino cannot run for re-election.  Beyond that, there are a lot of questions—even about who’s eligible to run.

Grace Poe has been a senator since 2013—and has been at or near the top of several polls since she announced her candidacy in September.  But the Commission on Elections has ruled her ineligible because of residency issues.  She was born in the Philippines and spent much of her adult life in the United States.

On Monday, the Supreme Court overruled the Commission on Elections—keeping her campaign alive pending further review.  Also near the top of the polls: vice president Jejomar Binay.   A Senate panel has investigated allegations of corruption over contracts Binay was involved with as mayor of Makati City.  He denies any wrong-doing and calls the accusations political.

Manuel Roxas is a former Interior Secretary, an investment banker before that, and the choice of current President Aquino.  Recently surging in the polls is the long-time mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte.  Nicknamed “The Punisher” - he’s an attorney who’s running on a promise to clean up corruption.  A new round of polling should emerge early in the New Year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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