Presidents in the Philippines are allowed to run for just one six-year term, and earlier this month, Duterte set aside rumblings that he might try to continue to hold power as vice president. Candidates for the May 9, 2022, presidential election were required to file paperwork this week. Here are some of the top figures to throw in their hats.
Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Gerona Robredo
Leni Robredo, the incumbent vice president and a former congresswoman, is running as an independent candidate, having clashed with Duterte for years.
“We need to liberate ourselves from the current situation. I will fight, we will fight,” Robredo, wearing a pink face mask and ribbon, said in a speech announcing her candidacy on Oct. 7.
She was elected in 2016 as a member of the Liberal Party. In the Philippines, presidents and vice presidents are voted in separately, allowing for a degree of public dissent between the two.
But Robredo and Duterte’s rivalry was particularly intense — and, oftentimes, personal. The two fought over many issues, from the drug war and the pandemic to where to bury Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Robredo also denounced Duterte’s violent drug war as a failure and called for more international scrutiny of the campaign.
“You cannot kill addicts and declare the problem solved,” she said.
In her speech last week, Robredo said: “If we truly want to liberate ourselves from this situation, it is not just the surnames of those in power that must be changed. The corruption, the incompetence, the lack of compassion, must be replaced by competence and integrity in leadership.”
Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a former senator in the Philippines, is hoping to take up the seat his father held for two decades.
The dictator and kleptocrat Ferdinand Marcos won the presidential election as a Nationalist Party candidate in 1965. After winning a second term, Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law — ruling with an iron fist, suppressing dissent with a media shutdown, and torturing and killing civilians.
Only after a massively popular uprising did Marcos leave his post, fleeing in 1986 to exile in Hawaii until his death. The Marcos family, led by Ferdinand and his wife, Imelda, have been the subject of investigations and convictions for their widespread corruption.
“Braving the possibility of arrest from the new regime, Bongbong was the first among his family to return from exile in 1992,” Marcos Jr.’s Senate profile reads. “No sooner had he stepped back on Philippine soil than he took up where he left off and started serving the Filipino people once again.”
Marcos Jr.’s election announcement — under the Federal Party of the Philippines, founded by staunch Duterte allies — sparked protests from human rights groups, which invoked the human rights atrocities and unreturned wealth from the nation’s martial-law era.
“It’s a slap on the faces of the victims of the widespread torture, rapes and disappearances,” protest leader Tinay Palabay told the Associated Press. “Some families are still looking for missing martial-law victims until now.”
Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao is known around the globe as one of the greatest boxers of all time. But in the Philippines, he is many things: a senator, a ballad singer, a farm owner and a basketball coach.
As a politician, Pacquaio’s policy stances have often been driven by his faith. A born-again Christian, Pacquiao has invoked the Bible on the Senate floor, using it to oppose abortion, same-sex marriage and divorce. He has backed controversial moves by Duterte, including the reintroduction of capital punishment. “Even Jesus Christ was sentenced to death because the government imposed the rule then,” the boxer said in 2017.
Pacquiao hung up his gloves in September, announcing a full retirement from boxing in a glossy 14-minute video montage, complete with childhood photos, fight highlights and minutes of thank-you’s — before transitioning entirely into a music video. His stunning boxing career left him with a 62-8-2 record, including 39 knockouts.
“I just heard the final bell,” Pacquiao said in a Filipino-English hybrid talking-head video. “I’m done now with boxing.”
Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso
Francisco Domagoso, a former actor and the mayor of the nation’s capital — who is better known by his screen name Isko Moreno — has framed himself as a unifying candidate.
He “learned the ways of Tondo’s hardscrabble streets,” his mayoral bio reads, as he spent his childhood in the Philippine slums as a junk reseller. But in 1993, a Filipino talent scout found Domagoso and turned him into a popular daily entertainment variety show host. From there, he climbed the political ranks from city councilor to Manila mayor.
In a promotional video vlog he posted Oct. 4 called “Vlog by Isko: Just another day at work,” Domagoso chronicles his candidacy filing day, stopping on the way at a local parish and a hospital. “I can work with anybody,” he said.
“Today will be part of history,” he said, with a black mask hanging around his neck, “and I hope it’s destiny.”
Citing a survey that noted most Filipinos believed his run would be unconstitutional, Duterte said, “In obedience to the will of the people, who after all placed me in the presidency many years ago, I now say to my countrymen: I will follow what you want.”
The president had also raised the idea that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, would run for president. But she did not file candidacy papers. Instead, she said she is filing for reelection as Davao City mayor — a post Duterte held for decades.
“It also hurts me to have to tell my friends that I cannot give them what they want,” she wrote in an Oct. 6 Facebook post. “I want to finish my last term as mayor before I take another position. Many of you are hurt, discouraged and hopeless, but we can still work together for our people. … We don’t need a president to help.”
Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa
Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa has long been Duterte’s right-hand man. Bato, as he’s known, means “rock.”
Once a city police director in Duterte’s hometown, dela Rosa ascended as the president’s pick for Philippine National Police chief — a position that made him the overseer and a primary architect of the country’s blood-soaked war on drugs. Notoriously tough on crime, dela Rosa enforced hard-line anti-drug police strategies.
He filed at the last moment for a presidential bid. The former police chief was nominated by a faction of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, after other candidates rejected the endorsement. Amid infighting, Pacquiao is running with the party’s other faction.
Dela Rosa has said he would step aside if Duterte’s daughter were to decide to run, but otherwise “will push through with this.”