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A president of and for all?

/ 12:12 AM November 04, 2016

In many of his speeches, President Duterte almost always emphasizes the overwhelming mandate he got—the 16 million votes he got in the 2016 presidential election. And very recently, he said God, whose existence he sometimes questions, was the one who put him in power.

On the other hand, his critics point out that a majority (60 percent) of total votes cast were not for him, that his 16 million votes were a mere plurality, not a majority, vote. For continuing to whine on this issue, the President’s critics have been branded by his supporters as “mga batang uhugin” (cry babies) who up to now have not moved on.

First things first, for a better perspective. “Majority,” according to Merriam-Webster, is the number of votes constituting more than half of the total votes cast—that is, 50 percent plus 1. A “plurality” vote, on the other hand, refers to the number of votes received by the leading candidate (in an election in which there are three or more bets) but which does not constitute “50 percent plus 1” of the total number of votes cast.

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Under the 1987 Constitution, which allows a multiparty system, the eventual winner, particularly in a presidential election, gets a mere plurality.

But even though Mr. Duterte won just by a plurality vote, his victory was a landslide, owing to his lead over the second placer. Still, with or without the landslide, he deserves the support of everyone, including those who did not vote for him. That is how a democratic election, at least the Philippine version, works.

But how does one support the President? Pardon my simple mind, but methinks that supporting him means helping him push the right agenda, giving him credit where it is due, and criticizing him if this is called for. It does not mean agreeing to everything he says or does.

Ang pagpuna ay hindi paghila pababa o pagiging utak-talangka.  Ang pagpuna ay pagtulong o paalala na baka hindi na nga tama ang sinasabi o ginagawa.  Ang pagpuna ay tungkulin ng LAHAT ng mamamayan, lalo na ng mga bumoto sa kanya. Indeed, only a true friend will tell you about your flaws.

We are not helping the President and our country at all when we shoot anyone (read: bully, bash, shame) who dares to criticize him, even if the criticism is valid or has basis. Fanaticism, on either side of the political fence, only fuels more division, which is what is happening now, especially in social media. This has no place in a vibrant democracy and a decent society.

In the same breath, Mr. Duterte should remind himself (and most specially his avid supporters) that he is not just the president of his 16 million voters. He took his oath as the president of a whole nation; as such, his first task is to unite our people and get their support, instead of alienating those who did not vote for him.

With his immense popularity, he actually has the rare chance to galvanize the entire nation toward a very positive vision of the future, but hopefully a vision focused not just on a country liberated from the clasps of illegal drug traffickers and criminals but, as importantly, on eradicating poverty and sharing the fruits of a growing economy.

REX F. JAYMALIN, rjaymalin@gmail.com

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TAGS: Elections 2016, president, Rodrigo Duterte
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