Duterte’s reconciliation offer
With a commanding lead of more than six million votes — more than the winning margins of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III and ousted president Joseph Estrada — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte can afford to extend a hand of reconciliation to his rivals whom he had left eating the dust long before Monday’s elections.
The surveys, which in the latest showed him bearing a 10- to 12-point advantage over erstwhile survey leader Sen. Grace Poe, long bore indications of a landslide Duterte victory, though their results had been used by his followers as evidence should, as they claimed, there be an insidious administration plan to rig the elections and proclaim Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas as victor.
Nearly halfway through Monday evening, Poe already conceded defeat, though she could well afford to do so since she still has three years to serve as senator, unlike another outgoing official, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Roxas followed suit and also conceded, which should be expected in an election that, while generally peaceful, had been spoiled by vicious insults, putdowns and accusations of irregularities between the Duterte camp and its rivals as well as broadcast media.
With his hand of reconciliation offered to rivals, the mayor should also be generous enough to appeal to his followers to not only cut down on the bile but also to be magnanimous in victory.
Hours after the results showed Duterte piling on the votes, not a few supporters were spotted on social media insulting rival candidates and even Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, whose last-minute expose failed to dent Duterte’s edge leading to the May 9 elections.
Duterte’s offer of reconciliation may not extend over to the senator whose accusations of corruption against the eventual president elect won’t sit well with him nor his followers, but to anyone else who ran against him and lost, and to a larger extent the people who didn’t vote for him but are still part of the voting public. It should be a clarion call for unity.
The mayor’s outspoken, typically outrageous statements may have been lapped up by supporters and those who believed in him enough to lead the country, but these only alarmed those who think that his strongman, alpha male leadership style may lead to a dictatorship.
How far and how genuine is Duterte’s offer of reconciliation go in relation with other sectors who are not only alarmed but have remained skeptical of his lack of elaboration on his specific programs?
Having secured not only a clear but overwhelming mandate from the people, the mayor and eventual incoming president should not see this as blanket authority but as incentive not only to reach out to those reluctant and suspicious of his administration but also to hold himself accountable to the Filipinos.
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