Closely fought Philippine presidential race gets underway

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Five key Philippine presidential candidates, including a crime-busting mayor and an adopted daughter of movie stars, have launched their campaigns to lead one of Asia’s most unwieldy democracies.

From Manila’s slums to the countryside, the candidates competed Tuesday to captivate the Filipino everyman at the start of the three-month campaign, promising to cure the same ailments that have hounded the Southeast Asian nation for decades: widespread poverty, corruption, crime and insurgencies.

The leading candidates are seen as Sen. Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of a popular movie couple and Vice President Jejomar Binay, followed by former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who has been endorsed by the president. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, known for his tough anti-crime campaign in southern Davao city, and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago are also among the main contenders.