The overwhelming number of votes garnered by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte indicates the people’s rejection not only of the dismal performance of the current administration but also of the political elite, professor Ramon Casiple said on Wednesday.
Casiple, Executive Director of the Institute For Political and Electoral Reform, noted that the electorate used their experience under the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd as a basis in choosing their next leader.
“Voters used their experience in the past six years wherein their lives have not improved and, in some cases, have even worsened, with the traffic, crime and drugs as if there is no government to watch over them,” he said.
Casiple added that for the past six years, the government has been citing its supposed macro-economic achievements, gross domestic product (GDP) data and inclusive growth that, however, were not felt by majority of the people.
“The government kept harping on economic and inclusive growth that can’t be felt by ordinary people in their everyday lives,” he explained.
The political analyst, however, said the issue does not only involve Aquino but also the political elite and those who have always been winning in the elections.
Casiple added that the protest is not only limited to the poor members of society because the “Duterte phenomenon” cuts across classes, with the rich also supporting the Davao City mayor based on pre-election surveys.
Duterte, who promised to eliminate criminality and drugs in six months, dominated the presidential race, beating four other presidential aspirants including Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, who has been targeting the presidency as early as 2009.
Roxas has relied on the machinery of the Liberal Party and the achievements of the Aquino administration under the so-called daang matuwid (straight path) governance but the people were more hypnotized by the rough-talking Duterte who promised to go after criminals.
A different Duterte?
Duterte, the long-time mayor of southern Davao City, thrilled his supporters but outraged
his critics with a series of diplomatic firebombs on the campaign trail.
While his insults caused gasps in various capitals, his foray into a delicate maritime dispute with China — involving many nations but with the Philippines a key player — may have the most far-reaching impact.
But he also signalled a potentially significant reversal of government policy, saying he would be prepared to hold direct talks with China on the issue — potentially shattering the united front of claimant nations backed by the United States.
“By the Philippines breaking ranks over this issue, it might affect… efforts to fend off China’s intrusion. There is a need to be united over this issue,” said Faisal Syam Hazis, head of the Center for Asia Studies at the National University of Malaysia.
Diplomats can expect a different Duterte when he becomes President, according to his spokesman, Peter Lavina.
“You have to understand the Philippine style of elections. The context is most of our politicians need to communicate to our audience, so many of our politicians sing and dance,” Lavina told reporters on Tuesday when explaining that the Singapore flag-burning remark was a joke.
“Some make jokes, some make funny faces. Some dress outrageously. So it is all in this context that all these jokes, bantering, happen during the campaign. We don’t expect the same attitude of our officials thereafter.”
Lavina acknowledged there were “problems” with the US, Australian and — particularly — the Singaporean embassies.
“We need to send out personal envoys to open lines of communication and express openness to cooperate,” he said.