Duterte
Image Source: nbcnews.com

The people have spoken.

Based on initial results from the Commission on Elections, the tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is on his way to a landslide victory in the May 9 presidential elections and will thus become the country’s president starting noon of June 30, 2016.

As of this writing (May 10), Duterte was leading administration candidate Mar Roxas by more than six million votes, so far the highest margin of victory in a presidential election held under the 1987 Constitution, higher than President Benigno S. Aquino III’s lead of 5.7 million over former President Joseph Estrada in 2010. Percentage-wise, however, Aquino’s 42.08 percent share remains the highest in the post-martial law era.

With almost 74 percent of the votes already counted and his margin further increasing with new votes coming in, there is no way Roxas or independent candidate Grace Poe can catch up or even close in on Duterte.

Realizing the inevitable and in a class act, Poe conceded defeat to Duterte and promised to help in the healing process for a nation that for months leading to the election has been severely divided by one of the, if not the most contentious presidential election in recent Philippine history.

“Binabati ko si Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at ipinapangako ko ang aking pakikiisa sa paghilom ng ating bayan at pakikiisa ng ating mga kababayan tungo sa patuloy na pag-unlad ng ating bansa,” said Poe, who lived in the United States long enough to witness losing candidates conceding within minutes of the tabulation completion.

Poe’s running mate, Senator Chiz Escudero, followed suit and conceded defeat in the vice presidential contest, in which Liberal Party candidate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo was nursing a slim 100,000-vote lead over independent Sen. Bongbong Marcos. This contest was headed to a photo finish.
Escudero, who led in surveys in the early part of the campaign, was languishing in fourth behind Robredo, Marcos and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano

Sen. Antonio Trillanes, who was in distant fifth and who tormented Duterte in the last week of the campaign with allegations of hidden wealth, conceded Duterte has won the election “clearly and convincingly” and pledged that he would not stand in the way of reforms to be initiated by Duterte.

“I respect the will of the Filipino people. They have spoken clearly and resoundingly that they want Mayor Duterte to be our next president,” Trillanes said. “I assure the mayor and our countrymen that I will not be a hindrance to the reform initiatives he intends to push in our government.”

These are class acts shown by Poe, Escudero and Trillanes, and I hope that the other losing candidates would follow suit and make their covenant with the people to respect their voice and contribute to the long healing process that should follow this naturally divisive democratic process.

“Vox populi, vox Dei.” The voice of the people is the voice of God. The “bosses” have spoken resoundingly and unequivocally.

President Aquino should lead officialdom in respecting the voice of the people, whom the outgoing president has repeatedly called his “bosses.” The President, who staked his legacy by declaring that this election is a referendum on his “daang matuwid” governance, is the biggest loser in this contest because Duterte’s victory is a clear, resounding rebuke of his claim that he is the best president the country has ever had in terms of solid achievements.

Aquino stomped the campaign trail to pitch for Roxas and Robredo and his “daang matuwid” governance. When it became obvious that Duterte was headed to victory, Aquino called on Roxas and Poe to agree to unite to stop the Davao mayor. But neither Roxas nor Poe, understandably, was willing to withdraw after going through a grueling campaign.

Aquino should make up for his loss of face with a magnanimous act by leading his party mates in congratulating Duterte for the victory and pledging to help heal the nation.

I hope that Aquino and his Liberal party mates would be gracious in defeat and not initiate any plot to defy the people’s voice, such as seeking to disqualify Duterte on technicality. Remember that the Comelec decided to overlook the fact that the Davao mayor substituted for PDP-Laban party mate Martin Dino, who for some reason wrote in his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) that he was running for Pasay mayor instead of for president.

There is a chance that Roxas, on the prodding of Aquino, may file a protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), a judicial-legislative body that has exclusive jurisdiction over presidential electoral protests. The tribunal could declare Roxas the winner by the PET based on this technicality.

The election has also shown that the voters are now independent-minded and conscientious about their votes as shown by the surprise ascent to the top of the Senate race by TESDA chief Joel Villanueva, the victories of independents Dick Gordon, Migs Zubiri and Risa Hontiveros, and the poor performance of showbiz/TV celebrities like Alma Moreno, Mark Lapid, Edu Manzano and Rey Langit.

After months of acrimonious campaign that divided families and friends as can be gleaned from the unending debates in the social media, it is paramount that the winners focus on healing the nation. No more exchange of threats and expletives. The winners should show they are magnanimous in victory and the losers that they can be gracious in defeat. This should include the candidates’ supporters.

The people have spoken. Let us all respect that.

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