Voting was underway in the Philippines Monday to elect a new president, with the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos the favourite to win the high-stakes race and restore his family to the pinnacle of power.
Polls opened at 6:00 am (2200 GMT Sunday), AFP reporters said. Voting was to continue until 7:00 pm.
Nearly 40 years after his father was deposed and the family chased into exile, Ferdinand Marcos Junior looks set to complete their remarkable political comeback.
But only Marcos Jr and his rival Leni Robredo, the incumbent vice president, are seen as having a chance of winning.
People wearing masks began queuing before dawn to cast their votes outside primary schools and other venues used as polling stations across the vast archipelago.
Turnout is expected to be high among the more than 65 million Filipinos eligible to vote in elections.
More than 60,000 security forces have been deployed to protect ballots and election workers.
The Philippines has a violent political culture but there were no immediate reports of incidents on election day.
After a bitter campaign season, polls showed Marcos Jr heading for a landslide. He had a double-digit lead over Robredo in the latest surveys and she will need a low turnout or a late surge of support to get over the line.
In the Philippines the winner only has to get more votes than anyone else.
Since Robredo announced her bid for the top job in October, volunteer groups have mushroomed across the vast archipelago seeking to convince voters to back what they see as a battle for the country’s soul.
But relentless whitewashing of the elder Marcos’s brutal and corrupt regime, support of rival elite families and public disenchantment with post-Marcos governments have fuelled the scion’s popularity.