Thu, May 23, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Duterte tightens his grip on power in midterm elections

AFP, MANILA

Allies of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stormed to a landslide victory in midterm elections, final results showed yesterday, dissolving a last check on his controversial rule.

Loyalists won both houses of the legislature, shutting out all opposition candidates in the Philippine Senate, which had served as a buffer against Duterte’s most contentious plans.

The results open a path for Duterte — who has remarkably high approval ratings — to make good on his call to bring back the death penalty and advance his project to rewrite the constitution.

“It’s a clear signal that the people will be behind him as he pushes bills and processes that went nowhere previously,” political analyst Ramon Casiple said.

With nine Duterte backers and three nominally unaligned politicians taking the 12 seats at stake in the 24-member Philippine Senate, only four oppositions members would remain, results from the elections authority showed.

Duterte allies kept control of the lower House of Representatives, which has approved legislation to bring back capital punishment and rewrite the constitution since Duterte’s 2016 election.

Senate seats went to Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s long-time adviser, and Imee Marcos, the daughter of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a 1986 popular uprising.

Opponents fear the majority would allow Duterte to push forward his legislative agenda, which includes rewriting the constitution.

The landslide victory was a crushing defeat for the opposition, leaving it mostly in disarray.

“Voters were unable to relate to the issues highlighted by the opposition in the election, which was all about defeating Duterte,” Casiple said.

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