Teachers and volunteers prepare the voting precinct for the national election, in Magarao, Camarines Sur, Philippines, May 9, 2022.
Teachers and volunteers prepare the voting precinct for the national election, in Magarao, Camarines Sur, Philippines, May 9, 2022. Reuters / LISA MARIE DAVID

Philippine voters streamed to polling stations on Monday, with prospects high of a once-unthinkable return to power for the Marcos family, 36 years after strongman Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in a "people power" uprising.

The presidential election pits Vice President Leni Robredo against former senator and congressman Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the dictator whose two-decade rule ended in a public revolt and his family's humiliating retreat into exile.

Around 18,000 posts, from the vice presidency, seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives to mayors, governors and councillors, were also up for grabs.

The window for casting ballots officially closed at 7 p.m. (1100 GMT) having opened 13 hours earlier, but election authorities said turnout appeared to have been high, and those still in line would still be allowed to vote after the deadline.

Another reason for the queues were glitches reported in 533 of the 106,000 counting machines, authorities said.

Word spread quickly on social media about the counting machines and complaints about missing names on the register, which prompted calls from candidates to guard the vote.

"Rest assured, those being reported by media are isolated cases and will not affect the integrity of our elections," commissioner Marlon Casquejo told a news briefing.

Opinion polls put Marcos, popularly known as "Bongbong", leading his rival by over 30 percentage points, having topped every poll this year. That means Robredo will need a late surge or low turnout if she is to win.

An unofficial vote count could give an indication of the winner within hours of the close.

COMELEC declared the election to have been "relatively peaceful" and documented 15 security incidents, including the killing of three people near a polling station in the south.

Police said those killed were members of a peacekeeping force, shot by unidentified assailants, with no clear motive.


Marcos, 64, cast his ballot in his home province of Ilocos Norte, surrounded by bodyguards and accompanied by family members, including his son who is running for congress.

Asked by a reporter how voting was going, he said: "It was fine", before leaving the polling station.

Marcos has presented no real policy platform but his presidency is expected to provide continuity from outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose ruthless, strongman approach proved popular and helped him to consolidate power rapidly.

His daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is tipped to win the vice presidency. Although the president and vice president are elected separately, Marcos and Duterte-Carpio are aligned.

The outgoing president has not endorsed a presidential candidate, but urged voters in his home city, Davao, to elect his children, three of which are running for political office.

"If you believe that they have led this city well, then I will ask for your help," Duterte said.

Election commissioner George Erwin Garcia said he was "overwhelmed' by the number of voters flocking to polling centres despite the pandemic threat.

Robredo, who voted in her home province of Camarines Sur, expressed concern after the reports about machine glitches.

"I hope the authorities will show they are on top of everything," she told reporters.

Retired boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, who is running a distant third in polls for the presidency, said the surveys did not capture his support among the poor and said he was "confident" he could cause a surprise.

Voter Thelma Manansala said she hoped her compatriots will be discerning in choosing the next leaders.

"We Filipinos are facing a lot of hardships and we really need a change of leadership," said Manansala, 58.


Marcos is buoyed by the support of many younger Filipinos born after the 1986 revolution, having launched a massive social media offensive in an upbeat campaign that has carried undertones of historical revisionism.

His supporters have dismissed narratives of plunder, cronyism and brutality under the martial law of his late father as lies peddled by opponents, presenting what his critics say is a different version of history. The Marcos camp has denied running misinformation campaigns.

Despite its fall from grace, the Marcos family returned from exile in the 1990s and has since been a powerful force in politics, retaining its influence with vast wealth and far-reaching connections.

The vote also presents an opportunity for Marcos to avenge his loss to Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential election, a narrow defeat by just 200,000 votes that he sought unsuccessfully to overturn.

Marcos has steered clear of debates and has campaigned on a message of optimism and unity.

Robredo, 57, a former human rights lawyer and staunch liberal, has pledged to improve education and welfare, fight poverty and improve market competition if elected.