Philippines election: Polls open with outspoken mayor tipped to win

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Image copyrightReuters
Image captionA woman in Davao shows her finger stained with ink to show she has voted

People in the Philippines are voting for a new president and other leaders, with outspoken mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte the favourite to win.

Five candidates are running but Mr Duterte led polls ahead of voting, despite controversial comments while campaigning and a hardline stance.

The campaign has been driven by public concerns about the economy, inequality and rampant corruption.

More than 100,000 police officers are on duty amid violence ahead of voting.

On Monday, seven people were shot dead in an ambush by unknown gunmen in the town of Rosario, in Cavite province, south of the capital, Manila.

The region had been considered an area of concern because of its political rivalries, said local media.

On Saturday, a mayoral candidate was murdered in the south of the country.

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Philippine presidential candidates (left to right) Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Senator Miriam Santiago, Davao city mayor Rodrigo Image copyrightReuters

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is standing down as the constitution limits presidents to one six-year term. Filipinos will also pick a vice-president and local officials.

The election campaign has focused on reforming the economy, infrastructure, tackling corruption and crime and on the territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Mr Duterte has run a campaign focused on law and order issues, but made many controversial statements, including saying that he would butcher criminals.

A former state prosecutor nicknamed “The Punisher”, he has been mayor of the southern city of Davao for more than 22 years.

He recently joked that, as mayor, he should have been first to rape an Australian missionary murdered in a prison riot, but he later apologised.

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