"I can see a renewed push for federalism and for the revival of the death penalty."
Well, the people have spoken.
Monday’s election was indeed a referendum on President Rodrigo Duterte, who is halfway into his six-year term.
The complete sweep of administration candidates for the Senate and the inclusion of the President’s favorite candidates—Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino—in the Magic 12 is enough proof that the majority of Filipinos are satisfied with Duterte and trust his leadership.
Duterte may be crude, vulgar and lewd in his remarks, especially on women. Women’s groups accuse him of being misogynistic. Still, Filipinos in general look up to him as the leader they have been waiting for.
Indeed Duterte is a paradox. Despite his tirades against the Catholic Church, its bishops and priests, it seems that the over 85-million Catholics regard him as the leader they had long wanted to lead the nation.
His promise to end the brutal and bloody war on illegal drugs, accompanied with allegations of extra-judicial killings, may not have ended. But it seems people still want to give him a chance these next three years.
The President’s war on government corruption may not have made a dent, but people appear willing to give him the chance to deliver on this promise.
This makes me ask—what makes Duterte so popular such that the majority of Filipinos see him as the leader they have been longing for? The people are willing to disregard his many indiscretions and tirades against the values we hold dear.
They still believe he is the person who can occasion the change that has eluded the country for so long.
There is no better proof of this than the complete sweep of Duterte’s senatorial bets.
I expected at least Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino to make it to the Magic 12. But I was wrong.
So what will happen?
We can now expect the President to push through with changing the political system to a federal one. With Go, Dela Rosa and Tolentino, there is a strong chance that a federal system of government can succeed within the next three years. With this will come amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
Just how far we can progress here is anybody’s guess since the people hardly know a thing about federalism. They are not aware of its implications on the fiscal and economic sustainability of the country.
President Duterte may revive his push for the death penalty. It’s a controversial move.
On the Senate itself, I believe Senate President Tito Sotto will keep his post unless the Senate majority wants a new leader, In this case, it will be a choice among Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara and Dick Gordon.
Another contributing factor to my mind is that despite global headwinds, the national economy remains in good hands with the economic team ably led by Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and now Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno.
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I have mixed feelings about the outcome of the Senate and local polls, with the defeat of my friends and former student Joseph Estrada and another good friend, Jojo Binay.
In the Senate, I am happy that Sonny Angara made it. In fact, Sonny is my choice to be the next Senate President if the super-majority opts for another leader.
Residents of the City of Manila opted for a younger mayor in the person of Isko Moreno. Still, I believe that in his two terms as mayor, Erap did very well.
I am also sad that Jinggoy Estrada did not make it.
And, I have always been a Binay supporter.
Makati Mayor Abby Binay won against her brother. I still hope that the Binays will reconcile. Blood will always be thicker than water.
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Some say the era of political dynasties are gone. I don’t believe so. There remain to be husbands and wives, daughters and sons and even grandchildren running for public office.
Why should we be threatened with political dynasties, so long as they serve the country well?
The argument against political dynasties is that they deprive others of the opportunity to rise in politics. But as far as I am concerned, there is nothing wrong with dynasties so long as they do the greater good for the greatest number. We cannot hand over the government to the incompetent and the ignorant. We have jails for the corrupt, but not for the incompetent.
In the United States, political dynasties have been serving their country well, and people have not been complaining.
It’s the corrupt we should guard against.
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In my home province of Abra, there are some 1,000 military people deployed during the elections because of heavily armed political factions fighting to the death over elective posts.
Abra has always been a hotspot during elections. It’s a life-and-death fight there, in the absence of other means of livelihood.
I recall that a group of Abra politicians came to my home in Quezon City to convince me to relocate to Abra and enter politics. My wife and I said, “No way!”