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Asia Minute: Philippines Presidential Campaign Officially Underway

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While political analysts are sorting through the results of the New Hampshire primary, Tuesday was a landmark in another presidential election. This one takes place earlier than the one in the United States, but campaigning has started later. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Campaign season is now officially underway in the Philippines, with 90 days until elections in early May and five candidates for president.

Senator Grace Poe is the front-runner - famous for being abandoned in a church as a baby and adopted by a movie star who later ran unsuccessfully for president.  She spent years in the United States, and her citizenship and residency are being challenged in a case that the Supreme Court may decide in coming weeks.

Vice President Jejomar Binay heads the main opposition party, but a Senate committee has recommended he be charged with corruption for accepting illegal cash payments.  The allegations date back to his long tenure as mayor of Makati City, in metropolitan Manila.

Former investment banker and cabinet minister Mar Roxas is the preferred candidate of President Benigno Aquino—who’s barred from running for re-election because of term limits.

And then there’s Rodrigo Duterte—a former mayor of a major southern city nicknamed “The Punisher” for his attitudes on law and order.  Among other policy initiatives, he has called for the return of public hangings.  Trailing in the polls is Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has run twice before for president and whose running mate is Senator Ferdinand Marcos Junior.

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