x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Five dead on eve of Philippine elections

The fatal shootings occur amid an election marked by violence, ferocious mudslinging and dark rumours of illegal power grabs.

Supporters greet Philippines presidential candidate and favourite to win the election, Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino.
Supporters greet Philippines presidential candidate and favourite to win the election, Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino.

Five people were killed in the Philippines today as tensions flared on the eve of national elections, which are expected to see favourite Benigno Aquino win the presidency in a landslide. The build-up to the elections has been typically tumultuous for one of Asia's most freewheeling democracies, with dozens of people killed, ferocious mudslinging and dark rumours of illegal power grabs. The five people were shot dead were in two remote parts of the country involving gunmen loyal to local candidates, while communist guerrillas also destroyed five vote counting machines, authorities said.

But the military and police, which have deployed tens of thousands of personnel to protect polling stations, insisted tomorrow's elections were expected to proceed without major unrest. "We expect some violent incidents here and there (but) we are prepared for the election. All systems are go," national police spokesman Leonardo Espina said. Election officials also said they would be ready when polls open and up to 80 per cent of the 50 million eligible voters were expected to cast ballots using a computerised tallying system for the first time.

Mr Aquino has established a huge lead over his rivals by pledging a new style of clean government following nearly 10 years of rule under President Gloria Arroyo, whose reign has been tainted by allegations of massive corruption. "The problems before us were caused by people putting their own selfish interests before the common good," Mr Aquino, a 50-year-old bachelor, told thousands of cheering supporters at his final public rally in Manila on Friday.

If opinion polls are correct, Filipinos hungry for an end to the corruption that plagues the country are about to give Aquino the biggest win in Philippine election history. * AFP