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Controversial Mayor Looks Set to Take Philippine Presidency


FILE - Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo 'Digong' Duterte speaks during campaign rally in Manila May 1, 2016.

FILE - Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo 'Digong' Duterte speaks during campaign rally in Manila May 1, 2016.

A tough-talking mayor from the southern Philippines looks set to win presidential elections in that country after taking an insurmountable lead in the national vote, according to unofficial poll data.

With nearly 90 percent of the vote counted, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has close to 6 million more votes than the next highest contender — former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

Duterte told the French News Agency that he accepts "the mandate of the people" with extreme humility.

The latest results have come from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, a Roman Catholic poll-monitoring group accredited by the government to tally the votes. The Philippine government is expected to release final results later Tuesday.

Duterte, 71, has gained support with his profanity-filled speeches pledging to combat crime and corruption, including promises to execute criminals. His tough talk has led to comparisons to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Monday that the United States "congratulates the Philippines on holding inclusive and democratic elections."

Philippine Senator Grace Poe, who until two weeks ago had consistently traded for the top spot with Duterte in national surveys, conceded late Monday after she fell to third place in the unofficial count. At a news conference to announce her decision, she said she would respect the election results and would work with Duterte.

Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe delivers a speech during a news conference in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines, May 10, 2016. Poe conceded to Rodrigo Duterte, who is leading in the unofficial count of votes for the presidential election.

Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe delivers a speech during a news conference in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines, May 10, 2016. Poe conceded to Rodrigo Duterte, who is leading in the unofficial count of votes for the presidential election.

Poe said she would finish out the last three years of her senate term and "fight for the voice of our people" to be heard there.

Roxas has not made any statement about the voting other than to call the results early on "discouraging."

8,000 spots up for grabs

In early counting, Vice President Jejomar Binay placed fourth on a six-candidate slate and remained in that position. He released a statement less than two hours after most of the polls closed pointing out malfunctioning voting machines and other anomalous incidents in his home city.

In Monday's election, about 8,000 positions from national seats in the legislature, vice president and president to village councilor were up for grabs.

In the vice presidential race, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. — son of the late dictator — was ahead of his most formidable rival, Congresswoman Leni Robredo, by fewer than a half-million votes. Robredo, who was picked by President Benigno Aquino to run, said in a Facebook message that she would see the race through until the count is complete.

The latest election tally also showed that world boxing mega star Manny Pacquiao secured a spot among the 12 seats for Senate.

The Philippine military said it monitored shootings, explosions and other violent acts that resulted in 10 deaths and three injuries in western Mindanao, the central Philippines and northern and southern Luzon Island, in the upper third of the country.

The Catholic Church's non-government poll watchdog group said it pulled volunteers from Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat town, both in Maguindanao province in central Mindanao, out of concern for their safety after they observed widespread cheating.

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