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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2010

The next generation

THIS month's elections in the Philippines indicate a clear victory for Benigno Aquino III, the son of assassinated political figure Benigno Aquino and ex-President Corazon Aquino.

Philippine democracy is vigorous, but it is also hereditary and corrupt. The nine presidential candidates this time included former President Joseph Estrada, who was impeached on corruption charges and pardoned by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He finished second.

During the campaign, firefights among rival supporters claimed lives, especially on the island of Mindanao. The elections used for the first time an automated voting system, the integrity of which was not certain.

Mr. Aquino, 50, will begin his six-year term next month. He has pledged a vigorous attack on the Philippines' culture of corruption. He is believed to be honest, but his track record as a lawmaker since 1998 leaves in question his effectiveness in government.

Apart from Mr. Aquino and the ever-hopeful Mr. Estrada, candidates in this month's election included members of the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos, whom Ms. Aquino ousted in 1986. Among them was Mr. Marcos' wife, Imelda, of the massive shoe wardrobe. President Macapagal-Arroyo, who was not on the ballot, is the daughter of a former president.

Mr. Aquino must address simmering insurgencies among Muslims and Communists in the Philippines. U.S. Special Operations forces are helping the country's military fight them.

Relations between the Philippines and the United States are relatively smooth at the moment. That could change, since Mr. Aquino has said he wants to review the agreement under which U.S. troops operate in his country.

Filipinos are the third-largest immigrant group in the United States, and a good number of them serve in America's armed forces. So any shift in relations will be watched closely.

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