Top contenders in Monday’s vote are Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the Philippines’ late dictator, and the current Vice President Leni Robredo.
Naga City, Philippines – Millions of Filipinos have begun voting to choose a new president in an election that pits the son of the Philippines’ late dictator against a human rights lawyer.
Polls opened across the Southeast Asian nation at 6:00am on Monday (22:00GMT on Sunday), with a record breaking 67 million people expected to cast their ballots.
Elections Commissioner George Garcia told reporters that he expected a huge turnout.
“It’s a historic election, a very memorable one, simply because we’d be electing, at least in a pandemic situation, a new president and that’s why we’re expecting a high turnout of voters,” he said before the polls opened.
Voting will end at 7pm (11:00 GMT), with polling hours extended because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to avoid queues and crowds.
Counting of ballots will begin right away and the winner could be known within a few hours as the candidate with the most votes wins the election.
There will be no second round.
Analysts have described Monday’s vote as the most significant election in recent Philippine history as the outcome could result in either democratic backsliding or liberal reforms.
The contest has shaped into a two-way race between Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and the current Vice President Leni Robredo. The pair had previously faced off in the vice presidential race in 2016, with Marcos losing to Robredo at the time.
But opinion surveys suggest Marcos will win the vote this time. He is the son and namesake of his father who ruled the Philippines as a dictator until he was forced from office and into exile in a popular uprising in 1986.
Robredo, a lawyer who heads the opposition, has promised a more transparent government and to reinvigorate the country’s democracy.
“This election is really a good versus evil campaign,” University of the Philippines Diliman political scientist Aries Arugay told Al Jazeera. “It’s quite clear. [Marcos] represents dynasty, autocracy and impunity. Robredo stands for the opposite of that: integrity, accountability and democracy.”
Marcos’ running mate in the election is the outgoing president’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio. She is leading the race for the vice-presidency, an election that is held separately.
In Naga City in Southern Luzon province, polling opened with a prayer.
“Vote counting machine, please be good to us,” an election official said as she prayed before starting the machine that will be used to record and transmit the ballots.
Then, a bell rang to signal the opening of polls and the voters started coming in.
Outside the polling station, Maria Fe Cortes, 51, patiently waited in line for her turn.
“I’m voting for change. I hope the next president will help the poor,” Cortes told Al Jazeera.