ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Politics

Tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte sweeps to victory in the Philippines

 (placeholder image)
Rodrigo Duterte, in his final campaign push before the presidential election, kisses the Philippine flag at a rally in Manila on May 7.   © Reuters

MANILA   Rodrigo Duterte and his team have started preparing for the Philippine presidency, with the latest vote count showing a clear victory for the tough-talking mayor from the southern city of Davao.

Election Commission Chairman Andres Bautista said the voter participation rate was 81%, a record high.

With 95% of the votes tallied as of 9:00 a.m. on May 11, Duterte had secured a 15% lead over his closest rivals, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of the ruling Liberal Party and independent Sen. Grace Poe. Both have conceded defeat.

On May 10, the Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index opened lower but ended at 7,174.88 points, up 2.6%, marking the biggest single-day jump since January.

The race for vice president is tighter, with Liberal Party candidate Congresswoman Leni Robredo leading independent candidate Sen. Ferdinand "Bong bong" Marcos by just 0.5%. Robredo told reporters on the afternoon of May 10 she would work with Duterte if she wins despite representing different parties.

Although Duterte is the clear winner according to the election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the official vote tally for the presidency and vice presidency is overseen by Congress. A congressional committee will convene later this month and proclaim the winners by mid-June. The new government will take office at noon on June 30.

In a press conference in Davao on May 10, Duterte spokesperson Peter Lavina said his camp "will prepare the transition [plan] tomorrow."

Duterte, who is set to be the first president from the southern island of Mindanao, has promised radical change, from executing criminals and drug lords to switching to a federal form of government with an eye toward making growth more inclusive and ending the Muslim insurgency in the south.

The Philippines was able to shake off its image as the "sick man of Asia" by expanding its gross domestic product by half from 2010-2015, under the watch of outgoing President Benigno Aquino. Economic growth averaged over 6% during those years, the fastest pace in four decades.

But despite the strong numbers, roughly a quarter of the population is poor, and many middle-income families are not enjoying the fruits of that growth. More than 2 million Filipinos go abroad for work each year due to the lack of quality jobs at home. These issues were reflected in the polls.

"Life is not bad but [I am] not very happy with President Aquino. I hear talk about a good economy, but I'm not feeling it," Connie Cruz, a real estate broker in Manila, said after casting her ballot.

Duterte said he would boost the agriculture sector, which employs a third of the country's workforce. He also wants to increase funding for small and midsize companies, which make up 99% of local businesses, and increase the cap on foreign ownership of local businesses to 70% from the current 40%.

Speaking in Davao on May 9, Duterte said he would simplify the bidding process for the $20 billion-plus public-private partnership program to improve infrastructure development.

On foreign policy, Duterte has said he is prepared to engage China in bilateral negotiations for the joint development of disputed areas in the South China Sea. Aquino has shunned bilateral talks and opted to bring the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Also on May 9, Duterte said he would honor the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the U.S., which paves the way for a greater U.S. military presence in the Philippines to counter China's expansionist moves in the South China Sea. As for Japan, which has been boosting its ties with the Philippines, he said the country "is playing like a big brother to us at this time."

It was a divisive election full of vicious personal attacks in speeches and TV ads. "I would like now to reach my hand to my opponents and let us begin the process of healing," Duterte said in Davao.

Catherine Villanueva, who voted for Duterte, is confident she made the right decision. "We need radical change. I am willing to take the risk," she said.

Nikkei staff writers Wataru Suzuki in Manila and Mikhail Flores in Davao contributed to this report.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more