Midterm elections may allow Duterte to consolidate power
February 20 2019 12:12 AM
President Rodrigo Duterte raises the hands of some Senate candidates.

By Divina ND Cruz/Manila Times

The midterm elections on May 13 is significant for the Rodrigo Duterte administration to consolidate power and support for the 2022 polls, political analyst Ramon Casiple said yesterday.
“Consolidation is needed, precisely to maintain the majority against anybody from the opposition,” Casiple said in a news forum.
He said the midterm polls are important to gain support for policies advocated by the administration in relation to industrialisation such as the Build, Build, Build infrastructure programme and manufacturing. Casiple added that federalism would be floated during the election campaign.
He said the Duterte administration needed to build support against threats of destabilisation or ouster, citing issues raised by the political opposition since President Rodrigo Duterte began his term in July 2016.
“So the administration needs solid political support against these threats, conversely the president wants to weaken the opposition, he doesn’t want it to grow stronger,” Casiple added.
The opposition, he said, was looking to consolidate and expand influence.
He, however, noted a weakness in the issue-based campaign of the opposition slate Otso Diretso (Eight Straight), saying voters tend to be divided on such pitch. Casiple added that resources, connection and personality were still the primary factors for winning in the elections, which only Manuel Roxas 2nd and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th currently have. It is too early to give forecasts on who the strong candidates are since the campaign had just started, according to the political analyst.
Meanwhile, Casiple said the mainstream media, especially television, were still the strongest means for campaigning.
He explained that voters would base their decisions more on the candidates’ stand on issues in their appearance on television shows and debates. “Meaning, if they see the body language of candidates, they will see that it is not rehearsed, it is not fake,” Casiple said.
He also explained that while social media had an advantage, candidates’ exposure there would only be fleeting.
He noted that based on election trends, voters would still base their decisions on programmes of candidates such as poverty, corruption, job creation and basic services as opposed to issues on extrajudicial killings and war on drugs.
“There’s also a high percentage of people who are opposed to killings, but they will not jeopardise the anti-drugs campaign because of that. It means that is the priority of the people,” Casiple said.

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