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THE ONLY son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos would probably continue President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s policies if he becomes President next year, posing risks of another strongman rule, according to Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. who was among the top three presidential candidates in an opinion poll, “appears to favor Duterte’s strongman leadership and has shown support for his father’s rule, posing risks of increased authoritarianism,” Fitch Solutions said in a report.

“Bongbong appears one of the few candidates to agree with Duterte’s policy of engagement with Beijing, potentially offering the most policy continuity out of the announced candidates,” it added.

Last month, Mr. Marcos said Mr. Duterte’s stance on the South China Sea dispute is “the right way to go.” He also parroted the administration’s views on Chinese aggression in Philippine-claimed areas in the South China Sea, saying the country could not afford to go to war with China. Mr. Marcos’s office did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.

“There are those who say that we should buy patrol boats and jets just in case we get to fight,” he told an online briefing. “Why would we think we will fight? That war will be over in less than a week. We’re defeated already.”

Aside from the former senator, Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso and Senator Panfilo M. Lacson are also running for President.

“We expect the next president to take a more distant approach to relations with China and potentially seek international support over its disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea,” Fitch said.

The international research firm said Ms. Robredo, who has opposed the administration’s foreign policy, will “take a tougher stance on the Philippines’ dispute with China.”

It said Mr. Pacquiao had criticized the president’s cordial relations with China and would most likely seek closer ties with the United States. Mr. Lacson was expected to focus on “pro-business reforms.”

In July, Mr. Lacson asked local businessmen at a meeting whether it was “a sound concept to run the government like a private corporation,” noting that the state could adopt the private sector’s fiscal discipline.

He noted that many consider Singapore a big corporation and investments by the people come back to them in the form of social services and other forms of public service.

Last week, Ms. Robredo said any administration should prioritize anti-pandemic efforts to boost the country’s economic recovery.

“We have a false dichotomy of health versus the economy — I don’t believe that,” she told an online news briefing. “Our health and our economy are closely interconnected.” Ms. Robredo said her first economic policy would be stopping the pandemic.

Fitch Solutions said a possible shift to a “liberal” democratic presidency remained low, highlighting the potential for key Duterte policies such as his focus on infrastructure development and the war on drugs to be continued.

It said Mr. Domagoso was expected to continue with the infrastructure plans of Mr. Duterte and tackle crime but in a less aggressive way.

The Manila mayor, who said he admired the late dictator, has pledged to continue the government’s drug war but “under the blanket of existing laws and rights.”

Senator Ronald M. de la Rosa, who is also running for President, would probably focus on crime and mirror Mr. Duterte’s style, Fitch Solutions said. He enforced the state’s anti-illegal drug campaign as Mr. Duterte’s former police chief.

The International Criminal Court has ordered an investigation of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs that has killed thousands, as it found “reasonable basis” that crimes against humanity might have been committed.

The court will also probe vigilante-style killings in Davao City when Mr. Duterte was still its vice mayor and mayor.

There were 1,424 vigilante-style killings in Davao City from 1998 to Dec. 2015, including 162 when Mr. de la Rosa was its police chief from 2012 to 2013, according to local human rights watchdog Coalition Against Summary Execution. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza



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