WITH 98.35 percent of the votes already counted nationwide as of noon, May 12, it is now certain that Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., more popularly known as "Bongbong," is the clear winner in the presidential election by a whopping 31,103,761 votes, or 58.74 percent of the votes cast.
Never in the political history of the Philippines has a presidential candidate garnered this big number of votes and with a lead over the next ranking candidate by as much as 50 percent in absolute numbers.
Even as the official results are not yet in, and with less than 2 percent still to be counted, Marcos now leads the contest by 16,281,891 votes. Marcos has garnered 31,103,761 votes while the next contender, Leni Robredo, has received only 14,821,870 votes.
In our recent political history, presidential elections have never been this lopsided. In the "snap elections" of 1986, the father of Bongbong, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., led Corazon Aquino by a little over 7 percent. The results of the elections were later invalidated and Corazon Aquino was proclaimed the winner during the last day of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
Considered as a very popular president, Rodrigo Duterte won over Mar Roxas in the 2016 presidential elections by just 6,626,822 votes, with voter turnout at 80.69 percent. President Duterte then was considered to have won the election by a landslide. As one commentator noted, if Duterte won by a landslide, then the Bongbong win is an "avalanche."
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It should be noted, however, that winning by an avalanche does not mean that the winner will be a good president. I recall that Joseph "Erap" Estrada won the 1998 elections with a huge margin of more than 6 million votes. In terms of percentages, Erap won over de Venecia by 24 percent. Despite the very popular mandate, Erap would later be impeached and left Malacañang through the back door to cross the Pasig River.
In contrast to what happened to the very popular president, Erap Estrada, President Fidel V. Ramos won by what is considered as one of the smallest margins of victory in the country's presidential elections. With 75 percent voter turnout, Ramos defeated his closest rival, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, by just over 887,000 votes. Of the 24 senatorial candidates who ran with Ramos in the then hastily organized Lakas Tao Party, only two candidates won, Senators Santanina Rasul and Leticia Shahani.
At the start of the Ramos administration, he had very few allies in both houses of Congress. He had difficulty getting his priority bills to pass Congress. For this reason, the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) was organized in accordance with Republic Act 7640, which was signed into law by Ramos on Dec. 9, 1992.
The Ledac was the mechanism designed by President Ramos to get his priority legislation through Congress. When I was the executive secretary of the Ramos administration, it was my task to report to the Ledac in weekly meetings on the status and progress of proposed legislation considered vital to the economy. The membership of the council, among others, included the Senate president and majority leader, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and selected Cabinet members. President Ramos never missed a meeting of Ledac.
After the 1995 midterm elections, in which I was the campaign manager, the Lakas-Laban coalition formed by Ramos won nine seats out of 12 senatorial posts. A majority of the coalition's congressional candidates won as well, ensuring the smooth passage of Ramos priority legislation.
Notwithstanding President Ramos' slim margin of victory, he was able to shepherd through Congress vital economic laws. He was successful in deregulating an economy that was dominated by very few companies. The oil industry was opened up to more players other than Petron, Shell and Caltex. With the deregulation of the oil industry, there are now more than 20 companies in the country that are engaged in oil exploration, oil refining and distribution of oil products.
The communications and air transport industries were also deregulated. In the communications industry, deregulation resulted in breaking up the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), allowing the entry of other companies. With the deregulation of the communications industry, landlines and cell phones have become more readily available.
Air transport was also deregulated, liberating the country from the stranglehold of air travel by Philippine Airlines.
Indeed, these are just a few of the many accomplishments of Fidel V. Ramos, the minority president.
In the next six years, we shall see what a president with an overwhelming mandate can accomplish. Putative president Bongbong Marcos promised the electorate that he would continue some of the major advocacies, programs and projects of the Duterte administration.
One Duterte advocacy that is left unrealized is the amendment of the Constitution. There is a strong clamor for a change in the system of government from presidential to parliamentary, and from a unitary government to federalism. With the mandate of Bongbong Marcos, I assume that he can easily get Congress to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional convention, or at least convene a constituent assembly to propose much needed amendments to the Philippine Constitution.
The economic provisions of the Constitution should likewise be reviewed and amended to make the country more investor friendly.
Another very important legislation that has eluded previous administrations is the "anti-political dynasty" bill. The passage of this bill will prevent the dominance in politics of only a few families in both the national and local levels.
Before BBM even begins his term on June 30, 2022, his most important task is to choose his Cabinet members. The vetting process has already begun. He has announced that his choice to head the Education department is Sara Duterte Carpio, the winner in the vice presidential race with also a very clear mandate from the electorate.
The presumptive president will be judged by the quality of the members of his administration. Soon we will know whether his official family will consist of honest, industrious and very well qualified heads of the various departments of government. The president, even with the overwhelming support of the people, can fail if those with whom he shall govern are not well chosen.
St. Luke said, that "from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12-48).
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