New President Duterte took some time out in the pre-dawn darkness of Tuesday, May 10, 2016, to weep at his parents’ graves after learning of his victory at the Philippines’ 2016 elections. It was the culmination of Rodrigo Duterte’s struggle to come to terms with ghosts of the past and move forward to face the challenges presented by his commanding win in Monday’s casting of votes.
At the start of a new day after 3 a.m. on Tuesday, president-elect Duterte, 71, spent some alone time at the Davao City public cemetery to commune with his late parents, former Davao provincial governor Vicente G. Duterte and retired schoolteacher Soledad Roa. This spiritual moment took the top executive of the land to his touchstone, the graveside reminder of his origins, his father, the late governor who was also a mayor of Danao in Cebu, and his mother, once a school teacher and civic leader of Maranao descent.
After an energy-sapping campaign that left him open to character assassination by opponents touting rumors of Davao death squads, the Australian missionary rape-murder by rioting prisoners under his watch, and his Pope-bitching over a traffic congestion, the new president Duterte had baggage to unload. Posted on a Facebook page of supporter Manny Piñol are Duterte’s words making light of the cemetery visit, translated from Cebuano to English.
“I have long wanted to cry like that… There are many ghosts here. You heard one cry just now.”
The new president gained an unassailable lead of 5.92 million votes on Tuesday morning over his nearest rival, administration candidate Mar Roxas, with nearly 90 percent of the votes counted. Duterte issued the following statement within sight of victory.
“It’s with humility, extreme humility, that I accept this, the mandate of the people. What I can promise you is that I will do my very best not just in my waking hours but even in my sleep.”
According to ABC News, the new president-elect Duterte came out on top with 38.65 percent of the vote, while Mar Roxas placed second with 23.16 percent and Senator Grace Poe took a third with 21.71 percent. Election officials cited a record turnout at polling stations, with more than 81 percent of the 54 million registered voters casting their votes. Senators and about 18,000 local officials including mayors are also being elected.
Senator Poe, the adopted daughter of a movie star couple, conceded defeat to the new president-elect just after midnight on Tuesday. She said this to reporters in Manila.
“As a staunch supporter of electoral reform, I have a firm belief in the voice and sentiment of our people. I honour the result of our elections. I congratulate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and pledge my support in working to heal our land and to unite our people toward the continued development of our country.”
According to BBC News, following Senator Poe’s promise of cooperation, administration favorite Mar Roxas accepted the new president-elect’s win. On being defeated by his erstwhile friend and bitter rival Duterte, Roxas shared his thoughts with the press.
“There are many tears in the room. Let me tell you this is not a time for tears. For our country, we have had a peaceful, successful transfer of power.”
At the heels of new President Duterte’s triumph is a hotly contested vice-presidential election. Social activist Leni Robredo is leading by a slight margin, ahead of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son of the late martial-law president Ferdinand Marcos.
According to the Guardian, the new Philippine president’s spokesman, Peter Lavina, said Duterte’s game plan “will require a wide national consensus beginning with asking congress to call for a constitutional convention.”
Lavina reiterated a campaign promise, saying, “There will be major rewriting of our constitution.”
Lavina added that the new president could implement a late-night drinking ban and a curfew for unescorted minors after 10 p.m. as observed in Davao City where Duterte has been mayor for seven terms. Lavina gave the following reason.
“This liquor ban is because we have to work the next day. Nothing to do with denying us of our freedoms. Incidentally, we have a ban on loud karaoke [in Davao] because everyone has to go to bed.”
When victory was imminent by way of the unofficial count on Monday night, the Davao City Mayor turning into the new Philippine president, Rodrigo R. Duterte, offered words of unity and reconciliation.
“Let us begin the healing now.”
[Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images]