Candidates in Crucial Philippines Election Include Celebrities, Rebels, ‘Bin Laden’

Candidates in Crucial Philippines Election Include Celebrities, Rebels, ‘Bin Laden’

DENPASAR, Indonesia -- As the 45 million Filipinos eligible to vote get ready to make a choice in their country's May 14 mid-term election, the Philippines political landscape has been disturbed by the sound of guns, and filled with a mix of celebrities, rebels and political dynasties.

Several actors, a current boxing world champion and a certain "Bin Laden" are among the nearly 87,000 candidates vying for 17,000 national and local positions, which include all of the 250 seats in the House of Representatives and half of the 24 Senate seats. In the meantime, reports indicate that up to 80 politicians have been killed in a spiral of politically motivated violence, which is a sad tradition in the archipelago during election time.

Almost half of the Philippines's 87 million people are poor, the country's economy is shaky, the bureaucratic system corrupt, the health system and schools are deteriorating fast and Muslim and communist rebels-cum-terrorists are an ever present threat. Yet, the political campaign has been devoid of real debate.

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