DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – On the strength of President Rodrigo Duterte's endorsement, two Davaoeño political newbies got enough votes to land them a Senate seat, based on partial, unofficial election results from the Commission on Elections on Tuesday morning, May 14.
As of 5:45 am on Tuesday, with 92.89% of precincts having transmitted results to the Comelec server, Duterte aide Christopher "Bong" Go had garnered 19,535,952 votes, while former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa had received 17,964,775 votes.
The numbers put both in the top 5.
Both Go and Dela Rosa hail from Davao Region and had spent decades of their lives working closely with Duterte – from his days as Davao City mayor to his presidency.
Because of this closeness, Duterte heavily campaigned for the two of them, repeatedly praising Go for his dependability and Dela Rosa for his honesty during his public speeches. (READ: The man they call Bong Go)
Go, on Tuesday afternoon, thanked all those who voted for him for believing in a "simple man from the province." He also profusely thanked President Duterte, who he said was like a "second father and mentor" to him.
Looking ahead, Go said he would bring "true change," a tagline of the administration, to the Senate.
"Tapos na ang halalan. Panahon nang magkaisa na tayong lahat para simulan ang mas mahalagang gawain sa pagsusulong ng kaunlaran ng ating bayan...Ipagpapatuloy ko ang naumpisahan natin. Tuloy ang pagbabago. Tuloy ang serbisyong Tatak Duterte para sa kapwa nating Pilipino," he said.
(The elections is over. It's time for us to unite and begin the important work of working towards our country's progress...I will begin what we started. Change will continue. The Duterte brand of serve for our fellow Filipinos continues.)
Their electoral victory is astounding because both Go and Dela Rosa had never sought elective positions before, let alone the national position of senator.
Before his Senate bid, Go was "Special Assistant to the President" and a member of Duterte's Cabinet. Dela Rosa meanwhile, had served as Duterte's first police chief and then Bureau of Corrections chief when he retired from police active duty.
Before the Duterte presidency, Go and Dela Rosa were virtual unknowns in national politics. Go had been an executive assistant to Duterte during his mayorship while Dela Rosa was Davao City police chief.
Plans for the Senate
Dela Rosa's banner campaign promise is to reinstate death penalty for drug trafficking. He has said he would focus on legislative work related to peace, order, and security, given his decades of experience as a law enforcer.
As a Duterte-endorsed candidate, Dela Rosa is expected to support Duterte policies and stances on issues.
Go has said he would champion legislation on putting up more Malasakit Centers (hubs for centralizing sources of financial assistance for people’s medical needs), fire prevention, magna carta for barangay captains, a department for overseas Filipino workers, and sports development.
He has said he would likely join the Senate committee on health and the powerful Commission on Appointments, the body that confirms presidential appointees. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.