The Philippine politician Rodrigo Duterte, who has an unbeatable lead in unofficial tallies in the country’s presidential race, will push to rewrite the constitution and change to a federal system of government, his spokesman has said.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning a few hours after Duterte claimed victory, Peter Lavina said the plan “will require a wide national consensus beginning with asking congress to call for a constitutional convention”.
“There will be major rewriting of our constitution,” he said.
Duterte, 71, had promised during a foul-mouthedcampaign to change from a centralised system to a federal parliamentary form of government, a policy that has been popular in provinces far from Manila.
As mayor for two decades in the southern city of Davao, Duterte has complained that the capital “gets everything so regions are forced to beg”.
During his campaign, Duterte pledged to kill tens of thousands of criminals and joked about raping an Australian missionary. His campaign symbol is a fist.
Yet the man who has been labelled “the punisher” displayed a more reflective side of his character at about 3am on Tuesday shortly after results made it clear he had won, as he drove to a cemetery and wept at his parents’ graves.
“Help me Mom,” he said as he sobbed in front of cameras. “I’m just a nobody.” He later told reporters he would “behave” as president.
Lavina said policies Duterte imposed in Davao could be implemented nationwide, including a late-night drinking ban and a curfew for unescorted minors after 10pm.
“This liquor ban is because we have to work the next day,” he said. “Nothing to do with denying us of our freedoms.
“Incidentally, we have a ban on loud karaoke [in Davao] because everyone has to go to bed.”
Lavina added that although Duterte could use an executive order, it would be best done through a consultative “democratic process of legislating these measures”.
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A preliminary ballot count by the accredited election commission showed Duterte has close to 39% of counted votes. The unofficial results suggest the tough-talking mayor, who has pledged to kill criminals en masse during his six-year term, will win when the official tally is announced.
The two runners-up, Grace Poe and Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas, have already conceded, virtually assuring victory for Duterte. Filipinos also voted for a vice-president and more than 18,000 local and national representatives in the archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands.
The vice-presidential race has been much tighter, with the lawyer and social activist Leni Robredo just 0.4 points ahead of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator who was widely expected to win.
The official election commission could take days to announce the final results.
In the congressional race, Geraldine Roman celebrated overcoming “bigotry, hatred and discrimination” after results showed she had become the country’s first transgender politician to win a seat.
Roman is seen by the LGBT community as a source of hope in a country heavily influenced by the church.
“The politics of bigotry, hatred and discrimination did not triumph. What triumphed was the politics of love, acceptance and respect,” Roman told AFP after her victory for a seat representing the farming province of Bataan, north-west of Manila.
Roman, a Catholic, said she was looking forward to becoming a politician so she could respond to critics who dismissed her as a single-issue candidate.
The general election in south-east Asia’s oldest democracy saw a record engagement with an estimated 80% turnout of the 54 million registered voters.
Key issues have been the economy, crime and corruption. Duterte was perceived to be the anti-establishment candidate in a country frustrated with the slow pace of change and a small clique from the political elite in power for years.
Alcohol was banned for two days during the voting period. Hours before polls opened on Monday, seven people were shot dead when a convoy of vehicles was ambushed in Rosario, just south of Manila.
According to the initial estimate of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), more than 40 million Filipinos were able to cast their votes on May 9. The number represents about 81 percent of total number of voters, surpassing the voter turnout in the 2010 presidential election. Meanwhile, overseas absentee voting went up by a whopping 300 percent.
There were several surprises in the election results: First, the landslide victory of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who is now set to become the Philippines’ 16th president. Second, the close race between Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr and neophyte Congresswoman Leni Robredo for the vice presidency. And third, the possible entry into the senate of new and young leaders.
Duterte’s electoral success is phenomenal since he will be the first president from Mindanao in the south, the country’s second biggest island plagued by extreme poverty and numerous local conflicts. Duterte, who first became popular last year because of his image as a crime fighter, defeated four other prominent and resource-rich candidates. Duterte introduced himself as a man of the masses and an ordinary politician from the province who is prepared to rid the country of crime and corruption in less than six months. Frustrated by the repeated failures of Manila-based politicians, an overwhelming number of voters gave their support to the tough-talking leader from Davao.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
As stipulated in the constitution, if Duterte is proclaimed president, he will take his oath as leader of the country on June 30.
If Duterte’s victory is already accepted by many, the vice presidential contest is not yet over as of this writing. In the Philippines, the vice president vote takes place separately from that of the president.
Senator Marcos, the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the country from 1965 to 1986, was ahead in most pre-election surveys but his numbers started to decline when his rivals campaigned strongly for the remembrance of the dark legacy of martial law and other crimes purportedly committed by the Marcos family. His main rival is administration candidate Robredo, a first-term congresswoman who is known for her pro-poor advocacies. Robredo is ahead by almost 300,000 votes in unofficial quick counts but the transmission of votes is not yet over. Whoever wins between Marcos and Robredo will become vice president by a very slim margin.
The senate race also yielded some unexpected results. So far, only 7 out of 12 new senators are expected to come from the administration party. Two incumbent senators are losing in the unofficial transmission of results. Most of the winners are members of prominent political families while some are young leaders who became national figures because of their Cabinet stint in the Aquino government. Meanwhile, world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is expected to be proclaimed Senator Pacquiao in the coming days.
Another big surprise is the quick transmission of votes. Polling centers closed at 5:00 pm and the results are known in many regions in less than two hours. Most Filipinos already knew that Duterte was the landslide winner a few hours after the end of voting because of the automated relay of the results from the provinces. Shortly before midnight, presidential candidate Grace Poe held a press conference to congratulate Duterte. Administration candidate Mar Roxas conceded a day after the elections.
The fast uploading of vote results offset the numerous technical glitches that marred the voting process in numerous polling centers. Hundreds of vote counting machines malfunctioned, which delayed and disrupted the elections across the country. There were also fears that vote results will be manipulated because the Comelec website was hacked two weeks before election day.
The majority of winners in the local elections are members of the ruling Liberal Party. But analysts expect most of these newly-elected leaders to switch allegiance to the party of president-elect Duterte in the next few weeks.