Newly retired boxing star Manny Pacquiao has filed his certificate of candidacy for the Philippine presidency.
Friday was the start of a weeklong registration period for candidates seeking to lead a Southeast Asian nation that has been hit hard by the pandemic and deep political conflicts.
Election officials placed heavy restrictions to prevent the registration period from drawing huge crowds of political supporters and becoming hotbeds for coronavirus infections.
Aside from the presidency and vice presidency, more than 18,000 national, local and congressional posts will be contested in the elections May 9th, 2022.
Those hoping for success at the ballot box can bring only up to three companions when registering their candidacies to prevent past chaotic scenes of candidates showing up with movie stars, musical bands and rowdy mobs of followers.
"We really went to great extent to make sure that the filing would be sober," Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez said.
Still, hundreds of fans and supporters in face masks and holding Mr Pacquiao's portrait and small Philippine flags lined the street leading to the heavily secured elections registration centre by Manila Bay to cheer his convoy.
Many expect the race to succeed controversial Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to be crowded and politically hostile.
Mr Pacquiao, former national police chief Panfilo Lacson and Manila mayor Isko Moreno have declared they will seek the presidency and others are expected.
Mr Duterte, 76, has accepted the ruling party’s nomination for him to run as vice president in a move that whipped up a constitutional debate and shocked opponents who have long condemned him as a human rights calamity.
Philippine presidents are constitutionally limited to a single, six-year term, and a constitutional expert has said he would question Mr Duterte’s candidacy before the supreme court since a successful vice-presidential run would put him within one step of the office again. – AP