The two top candidates in Monday’s presidential election offer Filipino voters a stark choice: the country’s vice president who has served as a check on President Rodrigo Duterte versus the scion of the Philippines’ most controversial political family.
Leni Robredo, who was elected separately from Mr. Duterte, is an outspoken critic of the president and a frequent target of his insults. She is polling a far second behind the front-runner, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the only son and namesake of the former dictator.
But perhaps the biggest surprise in this election has been the groundswell of support for Ms. Robredo from “Generation Z” and thousands of millennials. Many of her supporters are first-time voters, or are too young to vote.
Ms. Robredo, the widow of a government minister who died in a 2012 plane crash, has drawn comparisons to Corazon Aquino, the country’s former president who was swept into office after the assassination of her husband, Benigno Aquino, and the huge “People Power” revolt that ousted the Marcos regime.
But Ms. Robredo, who has served as a congresswoman and worked as a lawyer and an economist, is more politically experienced than Mrs. Aquino was. In 2016, she beat Mr. Marcos narrowly to win the vice presidency. Ms. Robredo has vowed to stop the extrajudicial killings in the violent drug war overseen by Mr. Duterte.
In an interview, Tricia Robredo, one of Ms. Robredo’s daughters, said her mother had been reluctant to run because she had told her family that she would not run for office again. “It was a promise to her daughters and the bigger goal, which is to prevent a Marcos from being president again,” said the younger Ms. Robredo. “I think those were the things that were going through her head.”
But when no one emerged as an unifying opposition candidate to take on Mr. Marcos, she threw her name in the ring late last year.