Results from the most recent midterm elections have given President Duterte even more power than before.
This year’s Midterm results show that all of Duterte’s endorsed candidates for the Senate were voted in by Filipinos. Many individuals in the Philippines are concerned with the added power of a Senate on the President’s side may mean – such as allowing sitting President Duterte to extend his term beyond its limit through powers granted by his allies in the Senate and/or through redrawing the country’s Governing system.
Half of the seats in the Senate were up for election in the Midterms. After the election concluded, all of the available seats were filled by Duterte supporters – now a makeup of 20 out of 24 Senators are allies to Duterte.
Many were not expecting this result, under Duterte’s governance, authoritarianism and oppressive policies were enacted. Since President Duterte has come into power, his war on drugs alone has resulted in over 5,000 extrajudicial killings, but these issues do not seem to hurt the President’s popularity. There were also alleged claims that individuals within Duterte’s circle were linked to major drug traffickers.
Under Duterte, there have been persecutions against journalists, critics, and sitting Senators. The Philippine President has also threatened on multiple occasions to impose authoritarian rule.
Philippine President Duterte has also packed Congress and the Supreme Court with supporters, including those who were appointed by Previous Philippine President Arroyo who had the courts dismiss her corruption charges. Arroyo is currently the speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Midterms did not just pack the Senate with Duterte supporters but also almost 300 seats in the Lower House, and several local seats. However, some suspect that the results of the Midterms are not accurate as there was day-of-election violence and anomalies reported at polling stations, as well as delays by the election commission regarding results.
One key phrase which has stuck with reporters is vote buying. Duterte told a journalist as he emerged from casting his ballot, that vote buying is “integral” to elections in the Philippines. “There are no candidates who do not buy votes,” Duterte concluded.
However, just before the election Philippine President Duterte publicly backed off his crusade against gambling, possibly to make his party seem more progressive and appealing. Needless to say, this appeal may have worked in his favor.