Thoughts on the results of #PiliPinas2016 Elections

Finally, after nearly a month of waiting, the official canvassing results of this year’s National Elections are out. The people of the Republic of the Philippines elected Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Congresswoman Leni Robredo as the President and the Vice-President, respectively.

As far as I can tell, Filipino netizens for the most part are satisfied with the results. After all the issue of cheating allegations especially on the neck-to-neck battle for the VP, none of the people I know bat an eye. Some even took to social media to celebrate the results, pining their hopes and optimism to the Ro-Ro duo.

I’ve drawn similarities and connection between the unlikely tandem: Duterte is a tough-talking, no-nonsense mayor with a down-to-earth personality (as his peers and the people of Davao attested). Right now, he clearly made it clear that lavish lifestyle will not be part of his 6-year term. He is now putting the Presidential yacht on sale, stated that he would donate the presidential choppers to the armed forces and outright refused to use the #1 plate on his car and even a convoy. Despite his tough-as-nails attitude and ‘dirty’ mouth, he has a soft spot for children, women and even the LGBT community. In terms of political stand, Duterte has a category of his own; he is progressive in a way that he is a strong advocate of family planning and even backed same-sex marriage. Yet, his critics described him as being too patriarchal in the conservative sense and he seemed to have a backward view on treating women intensified by his ‘rape’ joke that drew so much flak from women’s rights advocate.

On the other side of the table, you got Leni, a standard-bearer of the Liberal Party, a political party that grew increasingly unpopular with the masses even before the elections. She’s a mom of three kids and a human rights lawyer. Like Duterte, she didn’t hold any higher position than a senator. Even before she declared her bid to run for vice-presidency, Leni has won the hearts of Filipino netizens when a picture of her taking the bus home became viral. Her religion as a Catholic didn’t stop her from separating religion to public service – she has also stated her conviction to grant civil weddings to same-sex couples.

For the first time in a long time, we have two leaders who are so similar yet so different at the same. Both have extensive experience in grassroot communities and macro-management, both have served their respective provinces and both are respected figures by their constituents. The other one is rough around the edges, the other is an epitome of grace and diplomacy. I have no idea how this pans out but I can say one thing – this is going to be one interesting tandem and this is going to be one interest term.

Expectations are high from this two. I almost feel sorry for them. They may be good leaders but they are not perfect. They may have good experience in management but they are also prone to bad decisions with great consequences.

This is where we come in. Vigilance and critical thinking are not some filter we can just take off when we elect the leaders we want. No matter how we respect or even adore them, we must always keep an open mind on everything. We trust them to make this country good, but at the same time, we must always remember we are part of the process. A democracy that has been around for some time. We are still part of history in the making. Our voices, reflections, rants, criticisms and discourse still matter.

At the end of it all, we should be reminded that our loyalty lies on our country, not to our present leaders.