DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday joined millions of Filipinos who exercised their right to vote for the 2019 midterm elections largely seen as a referendum of the President’s way of governance.
President Duterte arrived at polling precinct 1245A at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School in Davao City two hours before the closure of official voting. He was accompanied by his partner Honeylet Avanceña.
In an interview with reporters after casting his vote, the President was asked if he sees Monday’s electoral exercise as a referendum of his administration with a majority win for administration bets, which is an affirmation of his governance.
“It could be. It could be taken as one referendum. So that if you agree with me, then you can vote for my candidates or the people I am supporting this election,” the President said.
“Now, if I am repudiated by the loss of all candidates coming from the Hugpong slate, then that would indicate that the majority of the people…ayaw nila ako.”
Although pre-election surveys showed administration candidates winning big in the midterm elections, the President said he placed the odds at 50/50.
“Maski na malakas ako sa survey, maski wala akong kalaban, it is always a 50/50 proposition. Because if I do not have opponents, then I am supporting a group of people who will help me run the city government,” he said.
With regards to the technical difficulties experienced by some polling precincts, President Duterte said the Commission on Elections (Comelec), being an independent body, must explain those aberrations to the public.
But he said it is still too early to seek an investigation into the malfunctions that have caused inconvenience for the voters.
If there were malfunctions or aberrations in the electoral procedures, he said he would let Comelec do the explanation first before his government can initiate an investigation.
Meanwhile, President Duterte said that he has yet to receive “something that is more than just the ordinary issue” when asked about his assessment of this year’s polls.
“Nothing of a big one that would maybe, probably disturb the conduct of the elections throughout the nation,” he said.
Asked about the reports of rampant vote-buying prior to the conduct of Monday’s polls, the President said buying votes has been an integral part of Philippine elections.
The practice is hard to prove, he said, stressing that those who were caught buying votes must be held accountable.
“Kaya mahirap ‘yang vote-buying. It can take many forms of… Basta mahirap talaga ‘yan,” he noted.
“For as long as the Philippines remains to be a poor country, for as long as the feudal system exists, lalo na sa rural areas, aggravated by the communists, ‘yon.”