Rodrigo Duterte’s win in the recent presidential polls was like a first round knockout win. And come to think of it—he was dismissed by some quarters as lacking experience compared to his rivals who all held positions at the national level before contending for the presidency.
Duterte’s rivals at the polls—Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay—all boasted of having held positions at the national level and had somehow acquired the knowledge to run the country from the Palace.
And while his opponents were also eloquent in addressing issues one way or other before various audiences, that was like a boxer picking their shots carefully and exercising excellent ring generalship, here came Duterte throwing punches like a slugger hoping to land that one haymaker to end the fight. And guess what? Duterte still managed to maul his opponents to the delight of the electorate, even if he made some comments that were below the belt.
His first round knockout at the polls was like Mike Tyson’s dispatching of Michael Spinks in 91 seconds during a heavyweight championship unification bout on June 27, 1988, or Joe Louis knocking down Max Schmeling three times in the opening salvo of their rematch on June 22, 1938, forcing the German’s corner to throw in the towel. When Tyson squared off with Spinks, the latter was given the chance to win via decision given his good boxing skills and undefeated record. On the other hand, Schmeling on June 22, 1938 was never expected to be dispatched in one round because he dealt Louis on June 19, 1936 a stoppage loss in the 12th round of their 15-round championship bout.
In the case of Duterte, I was expecting his rivals or at least one of them to be closely tailing him in the official and unofficial counting of votes.
But when initial results of the votes began, Duterte pulled away and before the election day ended, it was obvious Duterte could not be beaten. In other words, “tapos na ang boxing.” While that means “the fight is over” in English, that can also mean the fight was over in just one round.
With a lead that seemed insurmountable and no longer reversible by cheating (read ‘dagdag bawas’), Duterte was like a boxer who finished the fight in just one round, viciously!
And never in the history of the country’s polls was there a poll outcome like Duterte’s victory in terms of total votes garnered. Maybe Joseph Estrada may remain unbeaten in terms of percentage of votes he got in the 1998 polls, or almost 40 percent that translated to less then 11 million votes, which is not as big as Duterte’s more than 15 million votes so far.
I am not praising Duterte for his astounding victory at the polls, but I am surprised at how he was able to beat his opponents by a wide margin when the tallying of the votes progressed. And lo and behold—the survey firms got it right that Duterte will win.
As election day neared, an SWS survey showed Duterte having a 33-percent preference rating among 4,500 registered voters. A Pulse Asia survey at the end of April also showed one in three voters preferring Duterte. So if there is one lesson among many others that can be learned from Duterte’s victory at the polls, it is this—the results of election surveys can never be discounted.
But Duterte now finds himself in a more challenging spot like boxers who just won a world championship—he must “defend” his title or show that he is worthy of being the president of our country. Can he score first round knockouts solving the country’s gargantuan problems? Good question.