Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo were proclaimed as the duly elected President and Vice President after three days of vote canvassing–the fastest in Philippine history.
Duterte, the country’s 16th President, however snubbed the high-profile event.
Robredo, the Philippines’ 14th Vice President, is also the second woman to assume the post.
She is the first Vice President too to come from the Bicol Region.
A joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate endorsed the official count of ballots, which saw Duterte win by more than six million votes.
Duterte’s refusal to attend his proclamation broke tradition and disappointed even some of his supporters, reinforcing his reputation as a maverick who is happy to offend the political establishment.
“I am not attending the proclamation. I’ve never attended any proclamation all my life,” Duterte told reporters at the weekend in Davao City in southern Philippines.
His absence delivered a message that he will not be beholden to lawmakers, said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute of Political and Economic Reforms.
“As a symbolism, he simply doesn’t want to be confined by Congress,” Casiple noted.
But even some of Duterte’s supporters were disappointed that he shunned such an important date.
“We tried to convince him to change his mind but unfortunately, he did not,” Vitaliano Aguirre, who Duterte has named as the next Justice secretary, warned in a television interview that it was a sign of things to come.
“I can assure you this is not the only thing that’s going to change.”
Duterte and Robredo will be sworn in on June 30.
The long-time Davao mayor has promised to stay in the city until his term starts, and has been holding midnight news conferences at various local hotels.
This has forced politicians, powerbrokers, business leaders and courtiers to fly from Manila for an audience with him.
He has also begun forming his Cabinet from Davao, naming many regional politicians to key posts.
Duterte has said he wants to stay in the city because he is comfortable there. He has also repeatedly expressed his disdain with spending time in Manila, which he described last week as a “dead city” that is overrun by slums.
Duterte, 71, got 16,601,997 votes, five million more than Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
The 51-year-old Robredo, on the other hand, pulled off a nail-biting win over Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. with 14,418,817 votes, 263,473 more than what the senator got.
She was joined by her daughters Aika, Tricia and Jillian on her proclamation.
Call for help
Robredo appealed for the people’s continued support.
She made the appeal in a thanksgiving Mass on Monday morning held at Saint Peter Parish in Quezon City.
“Napakabait po ng Diyos sa akin. Kung di po kayo naniwala sa akin, ‘di po ito posible. Pero hindi pa po tapos ang paghingi ko ng tulong. Patuloy ko pa rin pong hihingin ang tulong niyo sa akin [God has been so good to me. Had you not believed in me, this (victory) would not have been possible. But it is not yet over. I appeal for your continued support],” Robredo said.
“Mahaba pa po ang aking tatahakin, marami pang pagsubok na pagdadaanan. Kailangan ko po ng inyong suporta at matinding dasal [I have a long way to go…more challenges to overcome. And so I need your continued support and fervent prayers],” she added.
Robredo credited Catholic bishops for supporting her late husband Jesse’s advocacy of implementing good governance at the grassroots level, dubbed UBAS (Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan [coordination between the village/s and the Church]).
“I remember the first to respond to my husband’s support for such program was the Catholic bishops. The program was shelved when Jesse died, and when I became a lawmaker, we tried to revive it. When I ran for Vice President, they were the same people with whom I sought refuge…[they]told me that they will guide me and have my back every step of the way,” Robredo, a lawyer for the poor before being elected to Congress, said.
Fr. Tony Laviao, in his homily, described Robredo’s victory as a triumph of the campaign for good governance.
“God has full trust in Leni. Because of her, the advocacy for good governance was popularized. The laity is very instrumental in taking this advocacy to the grassroots. She carried this governance in her campaign,” Laviao told reporters ahead of the thanksgiving Mass.