Philippines elections: Duterte faces key poll test

Philippines elections: Duterte faces key poll test

Agency News

Manila, May 13: Voting is under way in the Philippines, in mid-term polls seen as a popularity test for President Rodrigo Duterte after his first three years in office.

Gaining a Senate majority would allow him to push for constitutional changes and restore the death penalty. Some 61 million people from more than 7,000 islands are registered to vote in provincial, city and national polls.

Voting began at 06:00 local time (2200 GMT Sunday) and polls will close at 18:00, said a BBC News report. Several of Mr Duterte's children are standing for regional offices, including his daughter Sara who is seeking re-election as mayor of Davao. Her father governed the city for much of the time since the late 1980s, before becoming president in 2016.Sara Duterte is tipped by some as her father's potential successor in 2022.

One of the president's sons, Sebastian, is running unopposed for vice mayor of Davao, while his eldest son Paolo is seeking a seat in the House of Representatives. The key battle on Monday is for control of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, where Mr Duterte does not currently have a majority.

Independent surveys suggest that is now within his reach, however.The Senate has often served as a check on the president's more controversial policies, and half of its 24 seats are at stake. The opposition has been campaigning against Mr Duterte's war on drugs, which is thought to have killed thousands of drug users and alleged dealers and is widely condemned by rights groups.

Despite international condemnation of President Duterte's bloody war on drugs he remains incredibly popular in the Philippines. A recent opinion poll gave him a 79pc approval rating, a figure Western politicians can only dream about halfway through their term in office.