The legislative elections in the Philippines was dominated by candidates who support President Rodrigo Duterte.
A coalition of parties and candidates that back Duterte has won nine of the twelve open seats in the senate, giving the president control of 18 out of the 24 total seats. In addition, pro-Duterte candidates are also expected to keep the majority, controlling 245 out of the 297 seats in the House of Representatives.
This development bolsters the legislative power of the president, which ensures the continuation of its ongoing anti-drug campaign and infrastructure projects.
Pro-admin win expected as Duterte’s approval rating surged
The candidates endorsed by the president had been expected to win after his approval rating surged early this year.
“The president’s endorsement rubs off, especially for Duterte’s supporters and especially because he’s enjoying an all-time-high trust rating,” said Eduardo Araral, a Filipino and an associate associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s public policy school.
“The economy is humming along. Duterte is ‘what you see is what you get.’ Filipinos can relate to the simplicity,” he adds.
When inflation rose to 6.7% in September, Duterte’s approval rating dipped to 70%, according to a survey by Manila research institute Social Weather Stations. His approval rating increased to 79% in the first quarter of 2019 as inflation eased and economic growth picked up.
Midterm election results boosts Duterte’s Legislative Power
Analysts say that the results of this midterm elections will make it easier for the president to pass laws and secure funds through the end of his term in 2022.
Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Manila advocacy group Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said that as Duterte is limited to one term, he will use the midterm election victories to push through legislative votes. These votes will cover new infrastructure work, and tougher anti-crime measures such as the restoration of the death penalty.
“Whatever he’s doing now, it will be with more confidence,” said Casiple.
China ties continue to strengthen
Casiple adds that Duterte could also continue building ties with Beijing. The two countries are in talks of joint exploration for oil or gas in the South China Sea, which is the center of sovereignty disputes between the Philippines and China.
Chinese officials pledged $24 billion in aid and investment for the Philippines months after Duterte took office.
Last April, the two countries also signed deals to use $12.2 in funds from Chinese companies for infrastructure programs as well as telecommunications projects.
Better quality of life resulted in support for Pro-Duterte Candidates
The support for pro-Duterte Senate candidates is due to the president’s policies helping to raise the quality of life, said voters in Metro Manila. 45-year-old voter May Isabela De La Pena, a neighborhood councilor in Pasay City, said that Duterte is “for the cleanliness of the Philippines, like regarding the drugs, the cleanliness of landscaping, priority of the poor people and education.”
Pasay City’s economy is growing, thanks to business from the country’s largest shopping mall, as well as recent construction of new hotels and rooms that serve some of Metro Manila’s mega-casinos.
As of writing, of the 12 seats being contested, three seem going to independent candidates. And an anti-Duterte opposition bloc is being shut out.
The new Senate is set to take office on June 30.