THE public expectations are quite high. Disappointments over some appointments are setting in five weeks before he could settle down. Cracks are showing among groups around him because of conflicting interests.
Rodrigo Duterte did not promise to deliver the moon and the stars when he offered himself to the presidency. Unlike many other politicians, he did not beg for votes. He did not pretend to be somebody else. Probably that was what attracted him to voters who had grown tired of the usual campaign promises. He was different.
Officially, Duterte is not yet the Philippine president until Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, proclaims him as president-elect after tallying the votes from across the country. And it will start doing so on Wednesday, May 25.
The outgoing Senate and the House of Representatives resume sessions today after a three-month break for the May 9 elections, and convene in a joint session tomorrow at the Batasan plenary hall to lay down the ground rules for canvassing and start tallying the votes for president and vice president the next day.
As we all know from the unofficial tally by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and from the mirror server of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Duterte has clearly emerged as the top choice for president, with an overwhelming lead of more than 6 million votes over Liberal Party candidate Mar Roxas.
Duterte’s 15,970,018 vote tally, comprising 38.6 percent of the total votes cast in the May 9 elections, had surpassed the number of votes for President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010 (15,208,678) and Joseph Estrada in 1998 (10,722,295).
But percentage-wise, Aquino has kept the record in recent history of having obtained the highest at 42.08 percent, followed by Estrada with 39.8 percent.
Duterte garnered more votes but lower percentage of the votes cast because of the significantly higher voter turnout and number of registered voters in the 2016 elections.
Comelec has reported a record-breaking voter turnout at 81.5 percent this year compared with previous presidential elections at 74.98 percent in 2010 and 76.97 percent in 2004.
More overseas Filipinos also participated in this year’s elections. Comelec reported a turnout for overseas voting at 31.45 percent, or a total of 437,706 voters, as against 16.11 percent in the 2013 mid-term elections and 26.96 percent in the 2010 presidential balloting.
The number of registered overseas Filipino voters increased from 737,759 in 2013 to 1,376,067 this year.
Even the turnout for Local Absentee Voting was higher compared to the two previous elections at 77.76 percent, or a total of 19,225 out of 24,725 registered voters for this year’s elections compared to the 74.33 percent in 2010 and 65.59 percent in 2013.
Duterte clearly emerged as the popular choice to lead the country in the next six years despite his cursing and cussing during the campaign, despite lack of substantial platform of governance.
As I write this piece, Rappler came out with a news story that Gilbert Teodoro, former defense secretary under the Arroyo administration and presidential candidate of the then ruling Lakas-NUCD coalition in the 2010 elections, has turned down Duterte’s offer to reclaim the Department of National Defense (DND) portfolio. No official reason was cited in the news.
I covered Teodoro during his nine-year stint at the House of Representatives. One of the many bills he pushed that time was against the public display (through the media) of crime suspects in recognition of their right to be presumed innocent.
This goes against Duterte’s “shoot-to-kill” policy, and Teodoro would have to swallow his principles and eat his words in defense of the rights of the accused if he had accepted the job offer.
Teodoro would definitely be an asset to the Duterte administration given his credentials as a bar topnotcher in 1989, with a law degree from the University of the Philippines and masters in law from Harvard University. Teodoro is so far the most welcome choice of Duterte for a Cabinet position, but then he would have to sacrifice his principles to be a “deodorant” to the incoming administration.
Most of the names offered positions in the Cabinet are familiar because they would be recycled particularly from the administrations of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada.
Five weeks before the turnover of power, the groups behind Duterte have already shown disgust over their roles in the choice of Cabinet positions.
Evangelist Apollo Quiboloy has openly raised objections over the selection process, and shown his disgust for having been sidelined in the appointments.
If Duterte would fail to unite the forces behind him because of irreconcilable differences in principles and widely conflicting interests, he would definitely have a more difficult time to convince the 61 percent of voters who supported other candidates in the May 9 elections.
Self-proclaimed and media-labeled political analysts have said the votes for Duterte were protest votes from desperate Filipinos who had grown tired of continuing corruption and the perceived incompetence and inefficiency of the Aquino administration.
We have heard Duterte fanatics declare that their votes were votes for change. Overseas Filipinos and their relatives back home have shown dismay over the uncontrolled “tanim-bala” or “laglag-bala” extortion scam at the airports, as well as the opening of and stealing from the balikbayan boxes.
Commuters raised hell over the long lines for train rides that malfunctioned too often while motorists complained of the traffic congestion almost on every primary and secondary roads around Metro Manila at any time of the day, not only during the rush hours.
They associated these problems with the “Daang Matuwid” mantra of the Aquino administration and did not want the sufferings to go on under a Roxas leadership.
The tasks ahead for Duterte are indeed daunting. How could he deliver on his promise that “Change is Coming”? The public may be shooting for the moon and if Duterte fails to handle the situation properly, he might give up before the lapse of his “three to six months” self-imposed deadline to control criminality.
People are expecting that meaningful changes in governance and in our daily lives are in the wind. Duterte needs all the support he can muster from the groups that rallied behind him to prevent widespread dissent too early in his term.