The Philippines is set to usher in regional mayor Rodrigo Duterte as its next president, according to early vote counts, but the headline-grabbing candidate's shaky policy agenda is likely to worry investors and markets.
Formal results aren't expected to come in until June but a ballot count by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)—an accredited watchdog—showed Duterte held 39 percent of votes cast as of Tuesday. Earlier in the day, candidates Mar Roxas and Grace Poe both conceded defeat to the Davao City mayor. Voters went to the polls Monday in what was seen as a tight race.
71-year old Duterte, who's nicknamed "Duterte Harry" and "The Punisher," is hugely popular for his sensationalist rhetoric on crime and inequality despite numerous politically incorrect comments on topics such as rape and extra-judicial killings.
Following the PPCRV's results, Duterte spokesman Peter Lavina announced a few policies on Tuesday that the presidential hopeful intended to implement, including moving the constitution to a parliamentary model and brokering peace treaties with militant groups in the southern Mindanao province, Reuters reported.
But Duterte was yet to present a concrete stance on serious issues such as economic reforms, strategists said.
"Rodrigo Duterte's election platform lacked any content regarding his economic policies, creating considerable uncertainty about his future reform agenda," Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said.
That could see international investors and fund managers reduce exposure to Philippines equities and local government debt, which could weaken the Philippines peso against the greenback in the short-term, Biswas warned.
The currency was trading nearly 1 percent higher at 46.86 per dollar on Tuesday afternoon, while the benchmark equity index was up 0.4 percent.