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The Presidential Election in the Philippines 2016

Updated on April 10, 2016
Grace (L) and her DNA connection to Ferdinand Marcos
Grace (L) and her DNA connection to Ferdinand Marcos
Poe Family
Poe Family
Duterte the Punisher
Duterte the Punisher

In May, 2016, the Philippines will elect its 16th president since 1935, Unlike the American election occurring this year, the Philippines elect their president every six years and elect their vice-president separately. This can create some odd combos between liberal and conservative parties. In the Philippines, the popular vote elects the president unlike in the USA where delegates actually determine who eventually runs for either the Democratic or Republican party. Their bid for president is just three months long as the candidates search for support that begins in February. The USA has a very painfully long campaign lasting well over a year.

The two most popular and interesting candidates this year are Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte. It is odd how their candidates mirror the US ones- a popular woman and a popular Trump-like man. Poe is more of a Clinton-esque liberal, while Duterte, a Federalist or akin to a US Republican for his tough stance on crime. He is well known in the country for making the city of Davao on Mindanao free from crime by being very tough using law enforcement.


Poe returned from her home in the US and was elected to the Senate in 2013 in a stunning victory. But because she was a US citizen also, she was disqualified to run in December 2015. That seemed to end it until she challenged the ruling and in March, won, allowing her to run for President if she renounced her US citizenship, which she did. She is married to an American-Filipino and lived in Virginia.

She and Duterte are the leading candidates with Poe having a slight edge, but neither has a clear majority. Poe's background is interesting and there is still debate about who her biological parents are (not that it matters). She graduated in 1991 with degree in political science from Boston College in the USA and lived, got married, had a family, in Fairfax, Virginia. Her husband served in the USAF. Poe became a US Citizen through her marriage in 2001. She worked for the US Geologic Survey and as a teacher. It was not until 2005, when her father died that she returned to the Philippines and never went back to the USA.. In 2003, her father Fernando Poe ran for president, and she returned for a brief time to help her dad.

How Poe came into this world remains mysterious and unsolved. According to what is known as fact is that she was born Sept. 3, 1968, in Iloilo, at the main cathedral and left upon the steps. Found by a priest who named her Grace, who would later become the Archbishop of Manila. The church attempted to find the biological mother and failed and Poe was given to the Militar family. After some time, baby Poe was then given to a friend, Tessie Valencia, a single woman who was a sugar heiress of sorts. Poe lived in Bacolod during this time. While still an infant, Valencia's friends were national film stars, Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces (newlyweds) and liked Grace and decided to adopt her when Valencia decided to live in the USA.

As interesting as this is, there is also unsubstantiated facts that Grace Poe is the illegitimate daughter of former president Ferdinand Marcos and actress Rosemarie Sonora (which is Susan Roce's sister!). While it may sound like tabloid press, this has truth, in that, in a DNA test from 2015 from Poe, she IS related to BongBong Marcos, born in 1957. He is the only son of Ferndinand Marcos and currently is in the Philippine government. The Marcos name is not revered in this country due to the corruption of the Marcos government decades ago.

Still, yet, there is one more version of Poe's birth.This version has her born in Buenavista to Victoria Rodriguez, who died in 1996. Her natural father is said to be either Fernando or Pacito Montañez. He is also dead. The mother was single and in poverty when she left the baby on the steps. However, the alleged biological sister of Grace did provide DNA samples in 2015 to confirm the story. This time, the results were negative when compared to Grace. So, this third version is dubious. But, there is a connection to the Marcos family for sure.

Rodrigo Duterte

This candidate is Trump-like in popularity. Born in 1945, he is lawyer by trade and a mayor of the Philippines third largest city, Davao, for 22 years. As he was graduating from college in 1968, Grace Poe humble beginnings were just starting, and as such, the election is between two different generations. Duterte is old enough to be Poe's father. He was a prosecutor in Davao and as mayor, known as the The Punisher to criminals. One might say he governs with an "iron fist" and while those in the city love the guy, many are apprehensive about if this would be his manner as the ruler of the Philippines. Even though Davao is the 4th safest city in the world, crimes does exist. While crime is low, Davao needs some serious traffic reworking as it is mess. He despises drug addicts and drug dealers or organized crime and in the past has looked away when some were captured and executed according to Human Rights Watch. These vigilantes or death squads seemed to be condoned by the candidate causing many voters great concern. It is a little too extreme. However, when it comes to personal rights, he is liberal and supports Gay rights, which is still an issue there.

Like the US president, Bill Clinton, he is a womanizer and openly admits it. He has four kids, three from his first marriage to a Filipino-German, Elizabeth Zimmerman, a flight attendant. Their 27-year marriage ended in 2000. He now has a 4th child with his girlfriend. For the Philippine culture, this may or may not be an issue because of its conservative culture.

However, more interesting, is the fact that he was sexually molested by Catholic priests when he was a young boy in the early 1950's. The Catholic school , Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), demanded proof and Duterte provided the priest name, Mark Falvey, an American. After investigation, it was found out that the Church paid $16 million in 2007 for abuse claims from 1959-75. Falvey had abused at least nine kids while in the Philippines. Duterte may have been one of many kids so young and intimidated not to say anything at the time.


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