By Ellson Quismorio
The strong showing of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “top three” senatorial bets in the just-concluded midterm elections proved Filipinos’ “overwhelming support” behind the administration, re-elected Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte said.
“President Duterte has bucked the conventional wisdom of an incumbent chief executive turning less popular and into a political lameduck after the midterm polls on his or her watch,” Villafuerte said, pointing to the success of former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa, and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino.
Go and Dela Rosa–both newbies in the Senate race and perhaps the closest personally to President–finished third and fifth respectively, tallying 20.5 million and 19 million votes.
Meanwhile, Tolentino, who Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte had described in campaign sorties as his father’s “favorite mayor,” garnered 15.5 million votes for an impressive ninth place finish. Tolentino is a former local chief executive of Tagaytay.
The trio was informally dubbed “BaGoTo” during the campaign season. When the dust finally settled from the polls, 11 out of the 12 winning senators were endorsed by the populist Duterte.
According to Villafuerte, the results showed the voters’ support to the President’s decisive leadership in steering through Congress his priority bills, such as the ease of doing business, reform taxation, liberalize rice trade, and other bold reforms.
The outcome of the midterm elections was likewise a vote of confidence not only on President Duterte’s fast-tracked rollout of the “Build, Build, Build program, on which his high-growth agenda is anchored, but also on his astute foreign policy rebalancing that has enabled the government to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in official development assistance (ODA) from regional partners Japan, China and South Korea for his anti-poverty and pro-business programs
“More importantly, the results of this year’s elections was a show of the people’s overwhelming support for the tough war that the President had launched against the illicit drug trade and other major crimes, in line with his 2016 campaign pledge to make our homes and streets safe again,” Villafuerte said.
The only candidate in the winning circle who was not officially backed by President Duterte or the administration ticket was reelectionist Senator Grace Poe, who ran as an independent candidate and did not belong to opposition slate Otso Diretso.
President Duterte, 74, will conclude his Palace tenure in 2022.