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OF TREES AND FOREST

By MANNY VILLAR

Manny Villar Jr.

Manny Villar

As I write this column, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is still in the process of canvassing the votes cast during the last May 13, 2019 elections. But the initial official results and the more than 98% unofficial tally by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) seem to indicate that the midterm election was a resounding success for the administration coalition.

The initial results show a decisive 12-0 victory for candidates supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte. What do these results mean? And what are its implications for the remaining three years of the Duterte administration?

Clearly, many of the winning candidates benefitted from the tremendous popularity and trust approval ratings of the President. While many candidates are popular on their own owing to public awareness of their track records, the President’s endorsement is no doubt a big factor. In my succeeding column, I will discuss more extensively the “Duterte Magic” in the midterm polls.

It must also be said that the initial results of the midterm polls represent a resounding endorsement of the policies of the Duterte administration. It is a message from the voters that they approve of the direction Mr. Duterte is taking the country to. In particular, the victory of President Duterte’s slate is an affirmation of the various policies he has pursued: the war on drugs, the pivot to China and other allies, anti-corruption, and a no-nonsense style of governance.

At the start of the 2019 midterm electoral campaigns, many pundits were saying that the polls will function as a referendum the first three years of Pres. Duterte. Well, I think there is no doubt now who won that referendum. This is an unmistakeable verdict from our people. They are telling us that we are doing okay, proceed!

Three of the President’s men—Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa, and Francis Tolentino—appear to be on their way to winning 6-year terms in the Senate. Except for Tolentino, they are relative neophytes in the field of public service but President Duterte’s magic propelled them to victory.

I must also mention here that the three Nacionalista Party (NP) candidates—Sen. Cynthia Villar, Rep. Pia Cayetano, and Gov. Imee Marcos—are all in the winning circle. My wife Cynthia, in particular, performed well enough to take the top spot. Pia’s position has been steady all throughout the campaign, while Imee benefitted from a surge of support in the last week of the campaign.

I also congratulate the many NP candidates for Congress and various local positions who won the mandate of our people. It is a testament to our party’s resilience that we continue to earn the trust of the voters. Even those who did not make it, I congratulate you for your effort. You can’t win everything and you can’t win all the time. What is important is that we learn our lessons and move on to fight another day.

This overwhelming victory for the President bodes well for the last three years of his presidency. This mandate from the voters coupled by his unshakeable political will should allow him to sustain and consolidate the gains of the first half of his term.

The credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has confirmed this in a statement they issued: “This outcome (the victory of Duterte’s allies) could bode well for policy continuity during the President’s remaining term.”

With the budget now approved, the “Build, Build, Build” projects should go into super high gear. We need to lay down the tracks, build the roads, and construct the bridges that will strengthen our economy and sustain our growth. This should be one of President Duterte’s lasting legacies – the Golden Age of Philippine Infrastructure.

I believe we should focus on making sure that stability and continuity characterize our political-economic landscape. The President has three more years to fulfill his promises. Given his track record, I have no doubt he will accomplish them with the support from our people.

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