Sense of Political Continuity

A sense of political continuity.

That is perhaps the reason why Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and President Rodrigo Duterte are the most preferred possible candidate for president and vice president, respectively, according to the latest Pulse Asia surveys that were conducted last month. Mayor Sara was enjoying a comfortable double-digit lead over the next most preferred candidate for president, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Meanwhile, President Duterte led by four over the next most preferred candidate for vice president, who is, again, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

One of the bad features of the post-Marcos political structure in the Philippines is the lack of political continuity. The Cory Constitution is very strict when it comes to term limits, from the President all the way down to the barangay captains. That is perhaps one of the reasons why key projects and policies that were started by the incumbent tend to be discontinued by his successor, especially if he is a political rival. Corazon Aquino discontinuing many projects and policies of Ferdinand Marcos and Benigno Aquino III discontinuing many projects and policies of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are some of the examples of the lack of political continuity under the post-Marcos political structure. Surprisingly, the trend was cut by Rodrigo Duterte, who promised to continue most of the projects and policies of Benigno Aquino III as long as in accordance with the law, and that the Philippine government and Filipino people are not on a disadvantage, especially when it comes to key business deals that were entered into by the second Aquino administration.

The election of Rodrigo Duterte, an outsider to the Manila political elite, long-time mayor of Davao City and well-known for his unorthodox but effective approach to governance, as President in 2016 was a coup de grace to the 30-year dominance of the post-Marcos "Yellow and Red politics" in the Philippines. His anti-crime and anti-narcotics political platform was simple, pragmatic and easily understood by most Filipinos, many of whom had to deal with drugged criminals roaming their communities for years and the members of the Manila-based political elite not doing anything about it. Now on his sixth and final year of his term as President, Digong is still enjoying high popularity, trust and approval ratings, thanks to him being able to get rid of crime and narcotics in most communities, the "Build Build Build" infrastructure building spree that is helping the Philippines, behind by 30 to 40 years, infrastructure-wise, to catch up with its neighbors in Southeast Asia, and his sure and steady leadership and fulfilled promises before] and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It seems the majority of Filipinos wants a continuation of the Duterte brand of leadership, which is being seen in Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Inday Sara, as she is being fondly called, made a name for herself as a capable Alpha female who is an effective leader of a large provincial city. Some even see Inday Sara as a "much improved and stricter" version of her father, with the President backing up such a opinion about his daughter during some of his public statements, giving the impression that she is the only one who is capable of succeeding him and will continue the programs, policies and projects of his administration.

The possibility of two Dutertes being elected to the highest political positions of the land caused the political opposition to raise all sorts of issues, ranging from the President and his daughter building a national-level "political dynasty" to the President "trying to seek re-election" by running for Vice President despite the fact that the 1987 Constitution itself only prohibited the incumbent Chief Executive from running for another term under the same position but not for other elective positions such as vice president, senator, congressman and mayor. However, the manufactured noise seemed to have been ignored by most Filipinos. Inday Sara remains to be the top choice for president while the President, although he is still somewhat ambiguous about his actual plans when his term ends, is the top choice for vice president.

A certain politician who seems to be projecting himself as a possible candidate for President recently remarked that the 2022 national elections would be a choice of "more of the same" or "change." If we are to refer to the recent Pulse Asia presidential and vice presidential surveys, and past presidential surveys conducted by other polling firms, he seemed to be correct. The majority of Filipinos, so far, wants "more of the same," and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and President Rodrigo Duterte leading the presidential and vice presidential surveys, respectively, is proof of that.

However, this hullabaloo only proved one thing: the current political set-up in the Philippines does not encourage political continuity and consistency. Perhaps the successor of Rodrigo Duterte as President, whoever he or she may be, would consider finally introducing long overdue political and economic reforms, one of which is transitioning from the post-Narcos presidential system towards the parliamentary system, which is not only has a more streamlined political structure but also encourages political continuity and consistency as long as the majority party or coalition is voted into office and/or enjoys the trust and confidence of the majority of members of parliament. A shift towards the parliamentary system, among other things, is the only way for the Philippines to finally achieve long overdue political continuity and maturity, and realize its economic development success potential.


About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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