President’s allies clean house in senate elections . . .
President Rodrigo Duterte got a robust endorsement of his populist platform after his allies won nine of the 12 senate seats up for grabs in Monday’s mid-term elections. To date, the senate has been one of the few counterweights to the president – his attacks on opponents, his embrace of China, and his highly aggressive approach to the country’s drugs and crime problem. That will probably change.
If you thought the last three years were interesting . . .
Duterte will have congressional support for his tax reform and infrastructure plans. More controversially, the new senate might pass bills to re-introduce the death penalty and make children as young as nine criminally liable for their actions. It will also consider Duterte’s proposed changes to the constitution. If passed, the Philippines will move from a unitary to a federal system. Proponents say this would empower regions outside of ‘imperial Manila.’ Critics worry it could allow Duterte to bypass presidential term limits. The president says he has no plans to stick around past 2022, but there are whispers his daughter may be eyeing the job.
Watching from Canada . . .
Duterte’s brash style and disregard for human rights norms have tarnished the country’s international reputation. But his approval rating in the Philippines is at 80 per cent. And Canada’s sizable Filipino community strongly supported Duterte in the 2016 election: nearly 70 per cent voted for Duterte, higher than the 39 per cent of votes he got within the Philippines. Clearly, his style and policies have not hurt his image among Filipinos at home or abroad.
- Rappler: Highlights of consultative committee’s draft constitution
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Philippine politics under Duterte: A midterm assessment
- Council on Foreign Relations: The implications of Duterte’s proposed constitutional changes