President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is at the eye of the political storm brewing right now as the May 13, 2019 constitutional election of senators, members of the House of Representatives, governor, city and town officials approaches. And in spite of his popularity, he is facing some formidable opponents to validate his presidency!
Would he survive this most contentious elections when more than ten alliances and parties and independent groups have fielded their candidates in all levels of the electoral process?
The May 13, 2019 mid-term election will serve as “de facto” referendum for President Duterte, focusing on his policies on the drug war, corruption, death penalty, federalism, poverty and inequity, the Bangsamoro peace process, infrastructure, environment, and foreign relations.
Alongside with these policies are the perennial problems with the NPA, family dynasty, the end of contractual work and most especially his relationship with the Catholic church.
With more than sixty-two senatorial candidates running under the banner of various alliances, President Duterte is facing many obstacle to get a clear mandate, making himself available to campaign hard for Bong Go and Bato, both are so close to him amidst some critics accusing him of favoritism.
In reality, the 2019 midterm election has ten new political parties consists of the alliances among the Liberal, Nationalista, labor, federalists and other party-list groups.
To cite some alliances, the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago led by Davao Mayor Sarah Duterte is composed of Nationalist, People’s Coalition and National Unity Party while OTSO Diretso, the Liberal Party, Magdalo Party List, Akbayan Citizen Action Party and Aksyon Demokratiko led by Sen. Francis Pangilinan. Other political groups and alliances include Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipinas, Partido Liberal ng Pilipinas, United Nationalist Alliances, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, Labor Party of the Philippines, Makabagong Koalisyon ng Mamamayan, Partido Lakas Ng Masa, and independent groups with more than 20 senatorial candidates.
Let us do some analyses. Did he win the war on drugs? And how he would justify the extra-judicial killing? And what is the status of the peace and order in the country especially in Metro Manila.
“Kami pong mga taxi driver, hindi na kami kinakabahan dahil sa malaking pagbabago ang ginawa ni Duterte, marami pong nawalang mga manghoholdap, mga mamatay-tao, at hanggang gabi ay namamasada kami. Malaki po ang nagawa ni Duterte sa kaligtasan naming mga taxi-driver, patuloy po ang aming paghahanap-buhay na walang kaba,” at least 6 taxi drivers I had interviewed during my 30-day stay in Manila for family matters and at the same time, to personally experience some changes in the Philippines.
I did interview many bus, grab, taxi and tricycle drivers and the comments were very positive. But because of the many decades of drug problems, it seems that Duterte has to change his tactics to win the war in drugs.
Corruption is already embedded into the psyche of the people and Duterte faces more obstacles to eradicate corruptions in the BIR, Customs, Immigrations, Justice department, PNP,and other government agencies and few had been prosecuted and imprisoned and there was a setback when Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile did not finish their jail term and were set free! The war against corruption is going on in spite of the loud cry to dismantle the obnoxious family dynasty.And many critics have been vocal when Duterte made alliances with the corrupt Marcos family and the former President Glora Macapagal-Arroyo who was given freedom and became the Speaker of the House of the Representatives; and to make the matter worst, to include the former governor Imee Marcos, Revilla and Estrada in the Hugpong ng Pagbabago. And his alleged connections with the drug lords.
Death penalty is on the bill for discussion; and the Bangsamoro peace process has become a law, making this part of Mindanao as an autonomous in governance, Poverty and inequity problems are being attacked from the very roots of the problem. Many economic policies are favoring the common people especially the farmers, the copra makers, the teachers, the members of the Police force, and the final end of contractual work. Land distribution has become active and making most of the Filipinos as land owners.
Foreign relation is at stake especially the most discussed island in China Sea being taken over by China, highlighting that the Philippines is already owned by China as reported by some critics. Added to this foreign policy is to make new alliances with other countries, and less exposure to the United States.And making the Philippines as an active member of the Asean group.
Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” has helped to ease the perennial traffic in the Metro Manila and the neighbouring cities and towns. Many of the projects have started from the last administration of Pnoy and being continued to make travel faster and easier. “I was surprised when we took the highway along the Laguna de Bay, and we reached Santo Tomas with ease, no traffic at all. And when I asked some drivers about EDSA, in unison, they said, “kahit po si Superman or Bionic Man, EDSA traffic would not be solved.” One of the Grab drivers (Grab bought UBER in Manila) said: “Grab was introduced to ease traffic so that we can carry more people to their destination but the problem came up when most of the operators bought more than one cars, even one family has ten cars and hired drivers to operate the GRAB…so, instead of easing the traffic, many GRAB owners converted it into a business, to compete with taxi cabs.
And Duterte has sounded loud and clear that Federalism is the only salvation of the country, changing the constitution by installing NOT THE UNPRODUCTIVE, ONEROUS UNITARY GOVERNANCE, but to form a Federal government. Our present constitution is very restrictive, a protectionist constitution that limits opportunities for the kind of foreign direct investments which transformed the economies of Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and China! Without this change in the present Constitution enacted during Cory Aquino’s term, Duterte will face more problems while heading to the end of his term!
Would the Catholics vote for him? And how progressive is Duterte’s to negotiate with the NPA?
Even Duterte has a testicural fortitude, with these herculean problems facing him in his mid-term presidency, what would be the result of this litmus paper test on his presidency, and on his leadership to bankroll a new country.
This mid-term election must have the result favoring his kind of presidency to effect a drastic change!