Philippines’ election victor Duterte plans government overhaul
DAVAO – The victor of the Philippines’ presidential election, tough-talking city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, announced plans on Tuesday for a radical overhaul of the country’s unitary system of government that would empower the provinces.
Duterte’s win in Monday’s poll has not been confirmed, but an unofficial count of votes by an election commission-accredited watchdog showed he had a huge lead over his closest rivals, one of whom has already conceded defeat.
By midmorning on Tuesday, the rolling ballot count showed Duterte had almost 39 percent of votes cast. He was more than 6 million votes ahead of the second-placed candidate with 90 percent of votes counted from an electorate of 54 million.
Duterte’s spokesman, Peter Lavina, told a news conference in the southern city of Davao that the new president would seek a national consensus for a revision of the constitution to switch from a US-style system of government to a parliamentary and federal model.
The proposal to devolve power from Manila fits with Duterte’s challenge as a political outsider to the country’s establishment, which he has slammed as self-serving and corrupt.
The spokesman said Duterte would also seek peace agreements with rebel groups in the south of the archipelago, where the outgoing government has been using force to quell militancy.
The 71-year-old’s truculent defiance of political tradition has drawn comparisons with U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as have his references to his libido.
That tapped into popular disgust with the ruling class over its failure to reduce poverty and inequality despite several years of robust economic growth. His campaign vows to crush crime and drug abuse also resonated with voters.
However, Duterte’s incendiary rhetoric and advocacy of extrajudicial killings to stamp out crime and drugs have alarmed many who hear echoes of the Southeast Asian country’s authoritarian past. -Reuters