Big boost for President Duterte as allies dominate mid-term elections

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mid-term elections
A presidential spokesman described the election results today as proof of “Duterte magic”. File photograph.

President Duterte has received a public vote of confidence after unofficial mid-term election results showed big wins for his candidates.

According to unofficial tallies today (Tuesday, May 14) nine of 12 available seats in the Senate look set to go to candidates he had endorsed. With the other three going to independents, the results are a big blow to his political opponents.

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More than 18,000 posts nationwide were put to the mid-term vote yesterday, including hundreds of mayors, governors and congressmen. The election had been billed as a referendum on the president, particularly the seats in the Senate, which on occasion has been a source of frustration for the chief executive.

The new, friendlier, Senate majority will help the president push forward with his plans for massive infrastructure spending, constitutional reform and the return of the death penalty.

“This president’s popularity and transferability of his popularity is unprecedented to say the least, despite all the controversies,” political analyst Edmund Tayao told Reuters.

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“You expect normally two or three candidates from the opposition to win, but this is a wipe-out.”

Among the new Senators are presidential aide Christopher “Bong” Go, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Imee, and former police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who spearheaded the president’s war on drugs.

They will take their seats among 12 incumbent Senators, only four of whom represent the opposition. Among these is Leila de Lima, who has been imprisoned at police headquarters since 2017 on drug charges.

The president is expected to retain control in the lower house also.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Senate’s independence would not be in question, but the vote showed the public overwhelmingly backed the president and his vision for the country.

“Undoubtedly, the Duterte magic spelled the difference,” he said. “People yearn for stability and continuity of the genuine reforms that this administration started. They yearn for a constructive and not obstructionist Senate.”

As we reported last month, the president is currently enjoying a satisfaction rating of 81 per cent, a public endorsement that most world leaders could only dream of.

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