Duterte expected to strengthen clout after Philippine mid-term ‘referendum’

Campaign posters crowd a street in Quezon City Philippines

Campaign posters crowd a street in Quezon City Philippines

"If you agree with me, then you vote for my candidates or the people I'm supporting these elections", he said, less than one hour before voting was scheduled to close nationwide.

Almost 62 million of the country's 107 million population are registered to vote in a massive nationwide ballot for 18,000 posts, among them more than 200 mayors and governors and 245 seats in a lower house in which Duterte is all but certain to retain his huge majority.

"I support their programmes, including the anti-drug campaign. but I wish the bloodshed would stop", she adding, echoing many Filipinos' nuanced backing of the crackdown.

The opening of the polls were accompanied by isolated outbursts of violence, which is not unusual in the Philippines' frequently bloody competition for elected posts.

A Manila City public worker removes the campaign posters, mostly that of incumbent Mayor and former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada around the Manila City Hall, a day after the country's midterm elections Tuesday, May 14, 2019 in Manila, Philippines. The main opinion poll from Pulse Asia, based on face-to-face interviews with 1,800 likely voters, has key administration supporters taking the majority of the 12 open Senate seats.

Duterte's allies are expected to keep control of the country's House of Representatives and gain seats in the Senate.

Winning a Senate majority would give Mr. Duterte legislative backing for his anticrime proposals and his plan to rewrite the Constitution for a shift to federalism, which some critics fear may be a cover for the removal of term limits.

The opposition warns that it could lead to the single-term limit for the presidency being lifted, allowing Duterte to seek re-election despite his repeated statements that he would stand down at the end of his mandate.

It would also allow him to expand his anti-drug crackdown by bringing back the death penalty, a pledge that the UN Human Rights Council said gave it "deep alarm".

She is now mayor of Davao City, a post previously held by her father, and could follow in his footsteps to run for president in 2022.

"We really worked hard during this campaign to present to the people the senatorial candidates who understand the vision of our President", she said.

Nine of the 12 Senate seats available look set to go to pro-Duterte candidates and the rest to independents. With the other three going to independents, the results are a big blow to his political opponents. "A complete shutout", he said.

The results for municipal and city mayors and councils are expected within hours of polls closing at 6.00pm on Monday, with winners for the Senate and congressional seats likely to be declared from Friday.

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