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A dictator’s son. A former actor. A champion boxer.A diverse field of candidates have put up their hands to succeed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who is stepping down after a single six-year term in line with the Philippines constitution.Although the 2022 presidential election campaign is yet to begin, the machinations and drama are well underway.Friday was the final day for candidates to announce their intention to run. Among those who officially filed are Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of a former Philippines dictator; Manny Pacquiao, a senator and former boxing champion; Vice President and Duterte critic Leni Robredo; and Isko Moreno, the mayor of Manila and a former actor.Richard Heydarian, professor of history and political science at the Philippines’ Polytechnic University, says there is no clear frontrunner. “It is going to be highly, highly competitive,” he added.The Philippines has only one round of voting, unlike many countries such as France, where there is a second ballot between the two most popular candidates. This means that whoever is in front at the end of counting will become president - no matter how small their total share of votes.In a tight race, the prize could go to anyone. And the stakes are high.With China and the US increasingly treating the Indo-Pacific as a staging ground for their global showdown, the Philippines will likely come under growing economic and geopolitical pressure, particularly as a claimant to part of the South China Sea.During his time in office, Duterte aligned the Philippines closer to Beijing, publicly stating his “love” for President Xi Jinping as the leaders explored the possibility of joint resource contracts in the South China Sea.Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in Manila on July 26.Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in Manila on July 26.At home, he has cracked down on civil society and sparked a bloody war on drugs that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people, according to police.
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