Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has won the Philippine presidential elections, following the withdrawal of his opponents.
Although the official result has not yet been declared, main rival Mar Roxas admitted defeat after polls gave Digong Duterte an unassailable lead.
The 71-year-old Maverick anti-crime candidate said he accepted the mandate with “extreme humility”.
Digong Duterte stirred controversy during campaigning with his incendiary comments.
He has credited his success to his tough stance on law and order.
Rodrigo Duterte’s record as the crime-crushing mayor of the southern town of Davao, once notorious for its lawlessness, earned him the moniker The Punisher and resonated with voters.
Other driving issues of the election campaign were pervasive corruption, as well as the poverty and inequality experienced by many Filipinos despite economic growth under outgoing President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.
According to election officials, there was a record turnout at polling stations, with more than 81% of the 54 million registered voters casting a ballot. Senators and about 18,000 local officials including mayors are also being elected.
The PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) poll monitor said that with 90% of the presidential ballots counted, Digong Duterte had more than 14.8 million votes – about 39%. The PPCRV is accredited by the election commission to monitor counting but its reporting does not represent an official tally.
Mar Roxas, a former interior minister and Digong Duterte’s closest rival, had 8.6 million votes.
As the extent of his lead became clear, Digong Duterte told AFP news agency: “It’s with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people.”
Mar Roxas accepted his rival’s win, saying: “There are many tears in the room. Let me tell you this is not a time for tears. For our country, we have had a peaceful, successful transfer of power.”
Another key rival, Senator Grace Poe, was the first to concede defeat, promising to “co-operate with the healing process” after a turbulent campaign.
In the election to be vice-president, Leni Robredo, a social activist, is currently slightly ahead of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son of a former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Benigno Aquino is standing down as the constitution limits presidents to one six-year term.
As Digong Duterte rose in opinion polls ahead of voting, Beningno Aquino had tried to unite other candidates against him, warning his election could mean a return to dictatorship for the Philippines.
Filipinos are voting for a new president and other leaders, with outspoken mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte the favorite to win.
Five candidates are running but Digong Duterte led polls ahead of voting, despite controversial comments while campaigning and a hard-line stance.
The campaign has been driven by public concerns about the economy, inequality and rampant corruption.
More than 100,000 police officers are on duty amid violence ahead of voting.
On May 9, seven people were shot dead in an ambush by unknown gunmen in the town of Rosario, in Cavite province, south of the capital, Manila.
The region had been considered an area of concern because of its political rivalries, said local media.
On May 8, a mayoral candidate was murdered in the south of the country.
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is standing down as the constitution limits presidents to one six-year term. Filipinos will also pick a vice-president and local officials.
The election campaign has focused on reforming the economy, infrastructure, tackling corruption and crime and on the territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Rodrigo Duterte has run a campaign focused on law and order issues, but made many controversial statements, including saying that he would butcher criminals.
A former state prosecutor nicknamed “The Punisher”, Rodrigo Duterte has been mayor of the southern city of Davao for more than 22 years.
He recently joked that, as mayor, he should have been first to rape an Australian missionary murdered in a prison riot, but he later apologized.
Digong Duterte’s closest rivals in the opinion polls are Grace Poe – a former schoolteacher and first-term senator – and Mar Roxas, a former investment banker and the grandson of the first president of the Philippine Republic.
President Benigno Aquino has been leading attempts to bring together other candidates in an effort to defeat Rodrigo Duterte.
He warned that if Digong Duterte were to be elected, it could mean a return to dictatorship.
In a final rally on May 7, Benigno Aquino appealed to voters: “I need your help to stop the return of terror in our land. I cannot do it alone.”
However, the other four candidates – also including Jejomar Binay and Miriam Defensor-Santiago – refused to step aside.
A vice-president, senators and about 18,000 local officials including mayors will also be elected.
More than 54 million Filipinos are registered to vote across the archipelago of 7,000 islands.
Voting began at 06:00 local time and is due to end at 17:00.
Voting could be extended in some areas, because of problems with new electronic voting equipment, election officials said.