It has been over a week since we trooped to the polls to exercise our sovereign right to elect our leaders. Despite reports of election-related violence in some areas, authorities have declared the May, 2016, elections generally peaceful.
Hours after the polls closed, it became clear that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte had established an overwhelming lead over other presidential candidates. His position as presumptive president was cemented when his closest rivals conceded.
I would like to commend Sen. Grace Poe for being the first to concede. It was a class act befitting her name and her love for country. She demonstrated that there is a goal higher than securing power – the national interest.
Secretary Mar Roxas also conceded soon after her. His concession was significant, given how vicious the final days of the campaign were with accusations flying left and right.
A few days later, Vice President Jejomar Binay congratulated Mayor Duterte and wished him well.
Concessions are crucial, especially in hotly contested electoral contests. It helps in diffusing the tension between opposing political camps. This way the possibility of violence is reduced.
Concessions also strengthen our people’s trust in the electoral process which is very crucial in boosting our democracy. More importantly, the humility of accepting the will of the people signifies dignity and statesmanship.
I congratulate Mayor Duterte for winning the presidential elections. His victory represents a victory not only for Mindanao but for the entire country.
In my columns prior to the elections, I mentioned five key issues that were critical during the campaign: peace and order, the communist insurgency, the Muslim secessionism, the issue with China, and the drug problem.
In all those issues, Duterte crafted a message that resonated with the Filipino voters. His campaign harnessed his straightforward, tough-talking image to address the anxiety and insecurity among Filipinos. Clearly, almost 40 percent of voters understood and agreed with his message.
It was a disciplined campaign. Whether you agree with his ways or not, the admirable thing about how Duterte campaigned was that he did not pretend to be someone he is not. Many campaigns would have “packaged” him to be more palatable and refined, but Duterte chose to present his real self, good and bad, to the Filipino people.
Of course, we all know that there is a big difference between running for public office and governing the entire nation. Duterte needs to make a successful transition from being a candidate to becoming the president of the republic. In my next column, I will write about the prospects for a Duterte presidency.
The vice-presidential race is not so clear-cut yet. As we go to print, Rep. Leni Robredo is holding a slim lead over Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. It is a very tense and tight battle for the second highest official of the land.
I commend our very own Nacionalista Party members Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano for accepting the results. Same kudos go to Sen. Gregorio Honasan and Sen. Francis Escudero who ran respectable campaigns true to their honorable stature.
Senator Marcos, who is also a respected member of our party, is within striking distance of the lead. His camp is using all the legal means to ensure that his votes are counted correctly. This is important in order for us to strengthen the integrity and credibility of our elections.
There have been allegations of impropriety in terms of the electronic counting. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) needs to address these questions so that the results and the entire process, which they have worked so hard to put in place, will not be put in a cloud of doubt.
Whoever emerges as the winner of the vice-presidential race can only be beneficial to our people. We have two of the most promising public servants battling it out to serve our people. Here, the Filipino wins.
Congratulations to the Filipino voters who went to polling places in droves, despite the heat and the usual problems of missing voter’s names and malfunctioning voting machines. We achieved one of the highest turnouts in our history (81%), something that even mature democracies should be envious about.
Commendations are also due to our brave teachers who risked their lives to ensure that we can exercise our fundamental democratic right. Mabuhay ang mga guro!
Those elected can repay the heroism of the teachers by ensuring that they are paid as heroes, and that they live decent lives. And thanks, too, to the police, military, civil society, and the countless and nameless volunteers, who demonstrated what love of country really means.
Seeing our collective efforts to ensure credible elections make me even prouder to be a Filipino.
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