Surprises abound in every electoral exercise — this year was not an exception. There is always that one thing that commentators, columnists and surveys fail to predict. This year there were several. The beauty in elections is that the people themselves have the final say on who the leaders will be, albeit the occasional technological glitches that come with poll automation, as countless reports were received of broken down counting machines.
Regardless, the voice of the people was heard — loud and clear.
The word thrown around by the news outlets is “referendum” to best describe the 2019 elections. It is a “referendum” on the Duterte brand of leadership and politics, which was significantly and undoubtedly affirmed and upheld. As of this writing, Otso Diretso gets zero seats in the Senate, while President Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) gets four out five. Almost all of the endorsees of Davao Mayor Inday Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) also made it to the Magic 12. Notably, the candidate she left out at the final minute, Senator Koko Pimentel, still finds himself within the winning margin, as of now.
Thus, on the national level, the Dutertes’ endorsement is key. A lot expected Sen. Grace Poe to top, but it turned out to be Sen. Cynthia Villar of the Nacionalista Party. Consequently, this places Villar as one of the candidates for the Top 2 posts in 2022. Given the President’s recent statement that he will support Manny Villar if he runs for the top post, we shall see how this will play out with the stellar performance of Cynthia Villar this time around.
On the local level, the Dutertes’ endorsements (plural) added confusion to the voters. At times, PDP and HnP endorse different candidates. In Davao del Norte, for instance, the HnP bets lost to PDP: former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his men, including political newbie Engr. Edwin Jubahib, of PDP, toppled the Floirendo-Del Rosario clan, belonging to HnP, which maintained a chokehold on its local government for around 40 years. This victory shall dictate a huge change in how Davao del Norte will be run, especially now with the influx of infrastructure developments in the province.
In Metro Manila, we see huge changes in some cities: Isko Moreno defeated former President Erap Estrada in Manila; 29-year old Vico Sotto beat Bobby Eusobio in Pasig City, ending his family’s nearly 30-year reign; and Francis Zamora bested Janella Estrada in San Juan, where the Estradas ruled for around 50 years. These are young politicians who are eager to lead their cities with a fresh perspective, given a mandate by their constituents to bring forth change. We also saw a surprise win by Kid Peña in the House seat of Makati, as he beat former Vice President Jojo Binay, someone everyone expected to win without breaking a sweat. Perhaps, his family squabble affected his bid.
The partylist system again raised eyebrows, leaving people asking about its purpose. The celebrity star power of the Tulfos brought ACT-CIS to garner the most votes and three Congressional seats. The popularity of the Probinsyano teleserye gave fruit to two Probinsyano-related partylist groups, e.g. Probinsyano Ako and Ang Probinsyano. A lot of the partylists have nominees from ruling political families, but fewer partylists are aligned with the Makabayan Bloc.
Another thing that was more openly discussed this election is the prevalence of vote buying. This is a good thing since people are not blinded with this harsh reality, which is illegal in all respects. Overt acts have been taken by the authorities to quell vote buying, though we still need practice in catching people on the act. The worst-case scenario already happened with the arrest of Rep. Bingbong Crisologo, a candidate in the Quezon City mayoralty race, and his son, Atty. Edrix Crisologo. Despite the proclamation of Joy Belmonte as the winner, the matter is not mooted and the investigation should still proceed to reveal the truth on what happened.
Keyboard warriors went crazy since the initial results came out, more of disbelief. But changing elections and its results do not change overnight, and the keyboard warriors have to come out and actually make a difference, instead of just complaining online and bickering at the winners. I’m a believer that we are who we vote for, and for those unhappy with the results, now is the time to prepare for the next elections in 2022.
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