Duterte's allies dominate Senate race, shut out opposition

  • Twelve newly-proclaimed senators gesture their own political party symbols during a ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel and Nancy Binay.

    Twelve newly-proclaimed senators gesture their own political party symbols during a ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel and Nancy Binay. Associated Press

  • Twelve newly-proclaimed senators raise their hands during a ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel and Nancy Binay.

    Twelve newly-proclaimed senators raise their hands during a ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel and Nancy Binay. Associated Press

  • Six of the twelve new senators pose following proclamation ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, and Cynthia Villar.

    Six of the twelve new senators pose following proclamation ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Lito Lapid, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, and Cynthia Villar. Associated Press

  • Six of the twelve newly-proclaimed senators pose following proclamation ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel and Nancy Binay.

    Six of the twelve newly-proclaimed senators pose following proclamation ceremony at the Commission on Elections in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 22, 2019. They are, from left, Senators Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Aquilino Pimentel and Nancy Binay. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, then Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa gestures as he talks to reporters at police headquarters in metropolitan Manila, Philippines. Elections officials were to proclaim the winners Wednesday, May 22, 2019, after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. President Rodrigo Duterte backed eight winning aspirants to half of the seats in the 24-member Senate, including his former national police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, who enforced the president's crackdown on illegal drugs in a campaign that left thousands of suspects dead and drew international condemnation.

    FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, then Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa gestures as he talks to reporters at police headquarters in metropolitan Manila, Philippines. Elections officials were to proclaim the winners Wednesday, May 22, 2019, after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. President Rodrigo Duterte backed eight winning aspirants to half of the seats in the 24-member Senate, including his former national police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, who enforced the president's crackdown on illegal drugs in a campaign that left thousands of suspects dead and drew international condemnation. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, jokes to photographers as he holds an Israeli-made Galil rifle which was presented to him by former Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa at the turnover-of-command ceremony at the Camp Crame in Quezon city northeast of Manila. Elections officials were to proclaim the winners Wednesday, May 22, 2019, after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. President Duterte backed eight winning aspirants to half of the seats in the 24-member Senate, including his former national police chief, Dela Rosa, who enforced the president's crackdown on illegal drugs in a campaign that left thousands of suspects dead and drew international condemnation.

    FILE - In this April 19, 2018 file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, jokes to photographers as he holds an Israeli-made Galil rifle which was presented to him by former Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa at the turnover-of-command ceremony at the Camp Crame in Quezon city northeast of Manila. Elections officials were to proclaim the winners Wednesday, May 22, 2019, after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. President Duterte backed eight winning aspirants to half of the seats in the 24-member Senate, including his former national police chief, Dela Rosa, who enforced the president's crackdown on illegal drugs in a campaign that left thousands of suspects dead and drew international condemnation. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 19, 2018, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses troops during the turnover-of-command ceremony for the new chief of the Philippine National Police General Oscar Albayalde succeeding General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa at Camp Crame in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. Elections officials were to proclaim the winners Wednesday, May 22, 2019, after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. The tally had been delayed by glitches in automated counting machines.

    FILE - In this April 19, 2018, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses troops during the turnover-of-command ceremony for the new chief of the Philippine National Police General Oscar Albayalde succeeding General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa at Camp Crame in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. Elections officials were to proclaim the winners Wednesday, May 22, 2019, after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. The tally had been delayed by glitches in automated counting machines. Associated Press

 
 

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine president's allies won a majority of the 12 Senate seats at stake in midterm elections, official results showed Wednesday, while the opposition's shutout heralds a stronger grip on power by a leader accused of massive human rights violations.

Election officials proclaimed the winners after finishing the official count of the May 13 elections overnight. The tally had been delayed by glitches in automated counting machines.

President Rodrigo Duterte backed eight winning aspirants to half of the seats in the 24-member Senate, including his former national police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, who enforced Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs in a campaign that left thousands of suspects dead and drew international condemnation.

Last week's vote has been seen as a gauge of public support for Duterte, who is midway through the single six-year term Philippine presidents are allowed under the constitution. His anti-drug crackdown, unorthodox leadership style, combative and sexist joke-laden outbursts, and contentious embrace of China have been the hallmarks of his presidency.

"Do I look like a rubberstamp?" Senator-elect Bong Go, a longtime Duterte aide, said when reporters asked him about concerns that the new Senate would be beholden to Duterte.

But he stressed he would back the president's war against criminality, corruption and illegal drugs and would support a bill to reimpose the death penalty for heinous crimes and drug trafficking. Go said Duterte has not given any illegal orders to him or anyone he supervised.

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Duterte's three children also won races for mayor, vice mayor and a congressional seat representing their southern home region of Davao city. Voters also decided congressional, gubernatorial, mayoral, and city and township races. Nearly 75 percent of more than 63 million registered Filipinos cast their votes in a strong turnout.

Analysts say many Filipinos seem more open to authoritarianism due to failures of past liberal leaders. Such a mindset has helped the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos make a political comeback, the latest example being his daughter, Imee Marcos, one of the winning Senate candidates who was endorsed by Duterte.

The president has aimed for stronger leverage in the traditionally more independent Senate to bolster his legislative agenda. That includes the return of the death penalty, lowering the age for criminal liability below the current 15, and revising the 1987 constitution primarily to allow a shift to a federal form of government, a proposal some critics fear may be a cover to remove term limits.

During the campaign, Go said he felt Filipinos were not ready yet to support a shift to a federal form of government partly because of a lack of adequate information campaign about its benefits. "It's a longshot and it'll be difficult for us to work for the approval of federalism at this time," Go said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"My No. 1 agenda is the reimposition of the death penalty for drug trafficking," dela Rosa said in a separate news conference, adding that the drug menace remains troubling despite Duterte's crackdown.

If the handful of opposition senators whose seats were not up for election and independent senators forge an alliance on any issue, they could potentially offset the strong majority Duterte's allies hold in the new upper chamber. At least seven senators are needed to block amendments to the constitution, which was passed with safeguards against dictatorship in 1987, a year after Marcos was ousted by an army-backed "people power" revolt.

Senator-elect Grace Poe, an independent who got the second-most votes, said she would work for a Senate with a balanced stance. "If we can be of help to the administration, we will help, but in my view, it's time that when we see something that we can change, we should speak," Poe said.

Opposition aspirants, who were set back by a lack of funding and other campaign issues, considered the Senate the last bastion of checks and balances in the Philippine national government given the solid dominance of Duterte's loyalists in the lower House of Representatives.

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