UPDATE 1-Philippines election victory brings Marcos back to power and polarization

* Marcos leads the unofficial tally by a wide margin over his rivals

* Philippine stocks fall, but peso rises after election

* About 400 anti-Marcos protesters gather outside the polling committee (updates with student protest, market reaction, analyst comments and expected decision on petition to ban Marcos)

By Karen Lema and Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA, May 10 (Reuters) – The Philippines woke to a new but familiar political dawn on Tuesday, after an electoral triumph for Ferdinand Marcos Jr paved the way for a once unimaginable return to the country’s highest office for his most notorious political dynasty.

Marcos, better known as ‘Bongbong’, beat bitter rival Leni Robredo to become the first candidate in recent history to win a majority in the Philippines presidential election, marking a stunning comeback for the son and namesake of an ousted dictator who took decades to make.

Marcos fled to exile in Hawaii with his family during a 1986 ‘people power’ uprising that ended his father’s 20-year autocratic rule, and has served in Congress and the Senate since his return in the Philippines in 1991.

Marcos’ runaway victory in Monday’s election now looks certain with 96% of eligible ballots counted in an unofficial tally showing he has more than 30 million votes, double Robredo’s.

An official result is expected towards the end of the month.

“There are thousands of you, volunteers, parallel groups, political leaders who have set their sights on us because of our belief in our message of unity,” Marcos said in a statement posted on Facebook. , standing next to a national flag.

Although Marcos, 64, campaigned on a platform of unity, political analysts say his presidency is unlikely to foster that, despite the margin of victory.

Philippine shares fell around 3% on Tuesday, trailing weaker global stocks, but analysts also citing concerns over a Marcos win, particularly its tax implications if he sticks to his promises to subsidize food and fuel .

The peso currency, meanwhile, appreciated by 0.3% against the dollar.

Many among Robredo’s millions of voters are angered by what they see as a brazen attempt by the disgraced former first family to use their social media savvy to reinvent historical narratives of their time in power.

Thousands of opponents of Marcos Sr. were persecuted during a brutal era of martial law from 1972 to 1981, and the family name became synonymous with plunder, cronyism and lavish living, with billions of dollars in wealth vanished. of State.

The Marcos family have denied any wrongdoing and many of their supporters, bloggers and social media influencers say historical accounts are distorted.

STUDENT PROTEST

About 400 people, mostly students, staged a protest outside the electoral commission on Tuesday against Marcos, citing election irregularities.

The electoral commission, which said the poll was relatively peaceful, is due to vote on petitions Tuesday to overturn its rejection of complaints to exclude Marcos from the presidential race.

Human rights group Karapatan called on Filipinos to reject Marcos’ new presidency, which it said was based on lies and misinformation “to deodorize the Marcos’ hateful image”.

Marcos, who has avoided debates and interviews during the campaign, recently hailed his father as a genius and a statesman but has also been angered by questions about the martial law era.

As the vote tally showed the extent of Marcos’ victory, Robredo told his supporters to continue their fight for the truth until the next election.

“It took time to build the structures of lies. We have the time and the opportunity to fight them and dismantle them,” she said.

Marcos gave few clues on the campaign trail as to what his political platform would look like, but he is expected to closely follow incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, who has targeted major infrastructure works, strong ties with China and strong growth. Duterte’s tough leadership style won him great support.

Washington needed to engage with Manila rather than criticize “the democratic headwinds rocking the Philippines,” said Greg Poling, a Southeast Asia analyst with the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“It’s not the end of Philippine democracy, although it may hasten its decline,” Poling said.

(Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies)

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