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Marcos Jr warns supporters to prevent Philippine poll being 'stolen'

Marcos Jr warns supporters to prevent Philippine poll being 'stolen'

The son and namesake of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos is the frontrunner in the upcoming presidential election. (Photo: AFP/File/Ted ALJIBE)

MANILA: Philippine presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Junior has warned supporters to protect their votes in next week's national elections to avoid the result being "stolen from us again".

In the final week of campaigning for the May 9 polls, voter surveys show the son and namesake of the country's late dictator with a huge lead over his nearest rival, incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.

Victory for Marcos Jr, 64, would be the ultimate revival of his father's legacy and restore the family to the presidential palace they fled in disgrace in 1986.

Robredo came from behind to narrowly beat Marcos Jr in the 2016 vice presidential race, and a recent bump in her popularity has raised hopes among her fans that she could do it again.

Still smarting from the loss, which he spent five years trying to overturn, Marcos Jr told his nearly six million Facebook followers late Tuesday (May 4) of the need to be "vigilant of our votes".

In the short video, Marcos Jr wore a traditional barong shirt and stood behind a lectern, with the Philippines flag in the background - a far cry from his usual folksy style.

"Let us protect our decision and let us not allow it to be stolen from us again," Marcos Jr said.

Around 67 million Filipinos are registered to cast ballots in the elections.

A shift from manual to electronic voting in the 2010 polls made it harder for candidates to cheat, though vote buying remains widespread in the corrupt democracy.

A survey by Pulse Asia Research released Monday shows Marcos Jr on track to win 56 per cent of the vote - 33 percentage points ahead of Robredo.

Iglesia Ni Cristo, a conservative Christian group believed to have more than a million voters who are required by their leader to vote as a bloc, on Tuesday endorsed him and running mate Sara Duterte.

The group has a strong record of backing winners in presidential elections. It also supported Marcos Jr in 2016 when he lost the vice presidential race.

Despite his lead, Marcos Jr said last week he was not confident of winning.

"Everyone knows I was a victim in 2016," he told CNN Philippines in a rare media interview.

"So of course, we need to be careful there because you all know what happened, and what can happen."

Source: AFP/gs

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