Duterte tightens grip on power in Philippine polls

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte stormed to a landslide victory in midterm polls, final results showed on Wednesday, dissolving a last check on his controversial rule.

Loyalists won both houses of the legislature, shutting out all opposition candidates in the Senate, which had served as a buffer against Duterte’s most contentious plans.

The results open a path for Duterte — who has remarkably high approval ratings — to make good on his call to bring back the death penalty and advance his project to re-write the constitution.

“It’s a clear signal that the people will be behind him as he pushes bills and processes that went nowhere previously,” political analyst Ramon Casiple told AFP.

With nine Duterte backers and three nominally unaligned politicians taking the 12 seats at stake in the 24-member Senate, only four oppositions members will remain, results from the elections authority showed.


Duterte allies kept control of the lower House of Representatives, which has approved legislation to bring back capital punishment and re-write the constitution since Duterte’s 2016 election.

Among the new senators is former national police chief Ronald dela Rosa, the first enforcer of Duterte’s narcotics crackdown that has killed over 5 300.

Campaigners say the true toll is at least triple that and may amount to crimes against humanity.

“Number one on my agenda is the reimposition of the death penalty for drug trafficking,” dela Rosa told reporters. “I will focus on that.”

Senate seats also went to Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s long-time advisor, and Imee Marcos, the daughter of deceased dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a 1986 popular uprising.

Duterte family wins

The top vote-getter in the Senate race, Cynthia Villar, thanked the president for his backing and asked for a round of applause for him in a speech after the results were announced.

“The laws we craft or legislate must consider all interests involved,” she added. “A strong and independent Senate has always been our goal.”

Opponents fear the majority will allow Duterte to push forward his legislative agenda, which includes re-writing the constitution.

In addition to opening avenues for him to stay in power beyond his legally mandated single term that ends in 2022, a charter change could reshape the Philippines for decades.

Duterte has pitched constitutional reform to turn the Asian country into a decentralised federal republic where regions would have the power to fix local problems.

But the various initiatives launched in his first three years in office have also included proposals dropping term limits, allowing him to run for another term and weakening checks on presidential power.

“The pessimistic assessment is that what we’re looking towards is the complete transformation of the Philippine political system in the years to come, well beyond 2022 when Duterte’s term is supposed to end,” political analyst Richard Heydarian said.

The landslide victory was a crushing defeat for the opposition, leaving it mostly in disarray.

“Voters were unable to relate to the issues highlighted by the opposition in the election, which was all about defeating Duterte,” Casiple said.

The pro-Duterte electoral tsunami was also a win for the Duterte family.

Daughter Sara, touted as a possible 2022 presidential candidate, retained her post as mayor of the southern city of Davao, with sibling Sebastian winning as vice-mayor. The eldest son, Paolo, won a seat in the House of Representatives.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Agency
External source

Related stories

A pan-African stand must be taken against political oppression in Tanzania

As the country prepares for elections, the president is misusing state machinery to undermine, subjugate and repress citizens and civil society organisations

The October election season: Guinea, Tanzania and Cote D’Ivoire head to the polls

October is election month as three presidents seek another term in office. For two, it will be their third

Guinea’s choice will determine its future for generations

We need the eyes and ears of the international community to be alert to assaults on democracy as we run up to the election on 18 October

We should not ignore Guinea’s constitutional coup

Citizens have for a year protested against the president seeking a third term in office despite a two-term limit. Many have been killed — and 90 more people died in this week’s crackdown

Museveni isn’t worried about winning the election, but about what comes next

Uganda’s president is likely to win the next election. But Bobi Wine’s constituency poses the most serious threat yet to his continued rule

The African Union’s (un)official statement on the US elections

The United States has never been shy to pass judgment on African elections. What does it look like when Africa passes judgment on America’s chaotic vote?
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Khaya Sithole: Tsakani Maluleke’s example – and challenge

Shattering the glass ceiling is not enough, the new auditor general must make ‘live’ audits the norm here in SA

State’s wage freeze sparks apoplexy

Public sector unions have cried foul over the government’s plan to freeze wages for three years and have vowed to fight back.

‘Veteran’s stripes’ vs ‘kind and fair’

This weekend the Democratic Alliance will choose between two starkly different visions for its future

The high road is in harm reduction

While the restriction of movement curtailed the health services for people who use drugs in some parts of the world, it propelled other countries into finding innovative ways to continue services, a new report reveals
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday