Philippines presidential candidates start campaign

Manila, Feb 9 (IANS) As the 90-day campaign period for the Philippines’ national elections started on Tuesday, presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls began pushing for votes in rallies across the country.

In the northern Ilocos Norte province, presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, and vice-presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr – the son of former President Ferdinand Marcos – drew huge crowds, Efe news reported.

In a survey released by pollster Junie Laylo, 29 percent of 3,000 respondents said they would vote for Senator Grace Poe as president.

Other contenders include Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and former interior and local government secretary Mar Roxas.

It is not only the positions of president and vice-president being fought over. In total, more than 18,000 positions are up for grabs, including senators, congressional representatives, provincial governors, city and town mayors and vice mayors.

Elections in the Philippines have traditionally been marred by violence, and measures across the country are currently in place to deal with this.

A five-month ban on guns was imposed ahead of the polls, while police and military checkpoints have been set up nationwide to further deter people from carrying firearms.

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