On May 9, 2022, the Philippines will hold a presidential election and many young people are mobilizing around Leni Robredo, the current vice-president. The supporters are dressed in pink clothes, some with “Youth Vote for Leni” shirts. This lone candidate draws some of the biggest pre-election crowds. His biggest opponent is Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., a known dictator. Marcos Jr. was convicted of tax evasion and refused to pay his family’s inheritance tax.
Young people in the Philippines are increasingly disappointed with the leadership of current President Rodrigo Duterte. He launched a bloody war on drugs, where men and boys were gunned down in the streets. Moreover, his approach to the pandemic is having extreme mental consequences for children with a two-year school closure. The result is that many young people have come out in force to support Ms. Robredo, who has openly criticized Mr. Duterte.
Young people have the power to determine the outcome of this presidential election, with at least half of the 65 million registered voters aged between 18 and 30. This election was marked by extreme enthusiasm on the part of young people, since two million volunteers signed up for Ms. Robredo’s campaign, according to her spokesperson Gutierrez. Its rallies continue to attract tens of thousands of people.
Robredo is a lawyer and economist who won against Marcos in 2016 for vice president. As part of her campaign, she pledged to end the extrajudicial executions that took place in Duterte’s war on drugs. As vice president, she sent medical equipment to patients and supplies to those on the front lines. She has also helped marginalized communities and is often one of the first high-ranking figures to visit disaster sites.
“Many challenge us saying that we have no chance of winning. Do you believe that? Robredo told his followers, which his campaign said exceeded 400,000. His supporters shouted “no” in response.
A poll in March found Robredo trailing Marcos Jr by more than 30% in points. The youth vote continues to be split. A survey shows that seven out of ten Filipinos between the ages of 18 and 24 want Marcos to be president. This is not the first time that Robredo has held this position. In a poll for the 2016 vice-presidential race, she trailed Marcos Jr. by six percentage points, but still managed to narrowly win. Robredo has a steeper climb to victory in this presidential election. But his campaign is a testament to the power that young people hold in politics to determine the outcome of this election.