Palace: Duterte's magic worked as most of his backed senatorial bets to win polls
Malacanang said on Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte's "magic spelled the difference" as most of his backed senatorial candidates appeared to be winning in the May 13 midterm elections.
Based on the partial and unofficial count reflected on the Commission on Elections' transparency server, about eight of the 12 leading senatorial bets were those endorsed by the President.
"The overwhelming majority of the electorate have responded to the call of the President to support those whom he said would help pass the laws supportive of his goal to uplift the masses of our people and give them comfortable lives they richly deserve," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a regular press briefing.
He considered the results of the polls as the people's rejection of the "negative propaganda" allegedly unleashed by the opposition, critics, and detractors against the President and his administration.
Prior to the elections, the videos of the "Ang Totoong Narco List" came out. "Bikoy," the hooded man in the videos and later on disclosed himself as Peter Joemel Advincula, accused Duterte and some members of his family and former close aide and one of the possible winning senatorial bets Christopher "Bong" Go of their involvement in the illegal drug trade. They denied the allegations.
Panelo cited the other issues, which were thrown against the Duterte administration, such as extrajudicial killings, war on drugs, and the South China Sea, among others.
"The victory of the administration's candidates and the shutdown of the Otso Diretso candidates send a strong message that our people yearn for stability and continuity of the genuine reforms that this administration started," he said.
He said the people want a "constructive and not obstructionist" Senate which would help in crafting the President's legislative agenda.
Despite having more senators allied with Duterte in the coming 18th Congress, Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, expressed belief that the Senate would remain independent.
"Not really, because if you will notice, the history of the Senate shows members of that chamber independent ever since. No Senate has ever been under any president, they always rise above parties and considerations when issues involve national interest, national security and the interest of the Filipino people," he said.
He said the Palace expects the senators to be "fealty to the duties imposed to them by the Constitution and the laws."
"They have to support the President when the agenda of the President is for the good of the people and they will have to oppose if they feel in their conscience that it ran counter to the interest of the nation," he said.
One of the priority measures that the Palace expects the new Congress to push for is federalism, he said.
Panelo, at the same time, said the Palace thanks candidates of the opposition Otso Diretso and their supporters for giving their "best shot and fighting a good battle."
"As we have said repeatedly, we respect dissent as it vitalizes the democracy of our nation. In the end, however, it is the will of the people that prevails and we must respect the same," he said.
While the administration expects dissent to continue, the official expressed hope that this would be demonstrated with fairness and "within the bounds of law," as well as with deference to the leaders who were voted by the people. Celerina Monte/DMS