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Filipinos began voting for a new president on Monday with the son of an ousted dictator and a champion of reforms and human rights as top contenders in a tenuous moment in a deeply divided Asian democracy.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the strongman ousted in a 1986 army-backed “People Power” uprising, has led pre-election surveys with a seemingly insurmountable lead.

But his closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, has tapped into shock and outrage over the prospect of another Marcos recapturing the seat of power and harnessed an army of campaign volunteers to underpin her candidacy.

Eight other candidates, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former national police chief Sen. Panfilo Lacson have lagged far behind in voter-preference surveys.

The winner will take office on June 30 for a single, six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hit hard by two years of COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.

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