Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, won the Philippine presidency by a landslide, according to a preliminary count released Tuesday. File Photo by Rolex Dela Pena/EPA-EFE
MANILA, May 10 (UPI) -- Thirty-six years after his dictator father was ousted by a popular uprising, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is poised to become the next president of the Philippines in a stunning return to power for one of the most infamous political dynasties in recent history.
With almost 98% of precincts reporting in an unofficial count by the Philippines Commission on Elections, Marcos Jr. had 31 million votes, accounting for 58.7% of the total. His closest competitor, Vice President Leni Robredo, received 14.7 million votes, or 28% of the votes counted.
The margin of victory was the largest by far since the elder Marcos was driven into exile in 1986 by the People Power uprising, with no candidate winning an outright majority of votes in a presidential election since. Current strongman President Rodrigo Duterte -- whose daughter Sara was elected vice president in a separate race -- won with 39% of the vote in 2016.
Marcos Jr. addressed the nation in a Facebook livestream late Monday, after initial results showed an enormous lead.
"Many are already saying that it's over, but it's not really over yet, so let's wait until it's very clear and the counting will be 100 percent," Marcos Jr., widely known as Bongbong, said.
"But even before the count is over, my gratitude to all of you cannot wait -- my gratitude to all who helped, to all who joined in our struggle, for your sacrifice, for your work and for what you have given us," he said.
Robredo, a former human rights lawyer who saw a spirited grass-roots movement emerge around the later stages of her campaign, reached out to her supporters on Tuesday morning and urged them to carry on efforts to promote democracy and root out corruption in Philippine politics.
"We have a beginning that has never been witnessed in the entire history of the country," she said on her own Facebook video. "A campaign led by the people, a movement formed not only to dismantle the old and rotten system but to forge real and positive change.
"We are not done yet. We are just getting started," she added.
Reports of voting irregularities and widespread delays due to machine malfunctions at polling stations around the country had some Robredo supporters staging protests outside election commission headquarters in Manila on Tuesday, according to multiple social media accounts.
In a hearing on Tuesday, the Commission on Elections rejected appeals to disqualify Marcos Jr. from the presidency due to a 1995 conviction on tax evasion charges, news site Rappler reported.
Human rights group Karapatan also called on citizens to reject the tandem of Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte over the authoritarian rule of both candidates' parents and the "countless historical lies and disinformation" that marked their campaigns.
Robredo, however, asked her supporters to accept the results as the will of the voters.
"Although there are still questions about this election that need to be addressed, the voice of the people is becoming clearer," she said. "We need to listen to this voice, because ultimately, we share only one country."