Malacañang offers 'hand of friendship' to opposition

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said it would make peace with the opposition in the wake of a 2019 senatorial elections that was swept by administration-backed candidates.

Dissent, the Palace said, is welcome, as long as it is "constructive."

"We are putting our hands and offering our friendship to the opposition. As I said in my statement, let us unite and build a better Philippines. It's about time we do that," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday, May 15, in the Palace.

He urged the opposition to help the President.

"The majority says, eto ang gusto naming mga officials na tutulong kay Presidente. Ang mensahe ko sa kanila, tulungan natin siya para maayos ang bansa natin," the spokesman said.

(The majority says, these are the officials we want who will help the President. My message to them is, let's help him so we can improve our country.)

Is there any room for dissent and criticism after the administration-dominated elections?

"Dissent will always be there, pero kailangan 'yung constructive, hindi 'yung mudslinging (but it has to be constructive, not mudslinging)," Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte and his spokesmen have previously dismissed critical news reports and accusations by critics as "black propaganda" meant to bring down the government or ruin the Chief Executive's reputation.

Concerns of a "rubber stamp" Senate have risen with the partial and official election results showing that no opposition candidate won a Senate seat.

This is worse than in the Marcos years when only one opposition, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino II, won in the 1967 elections.

With only one opposition in the Senate, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was able to declare Martial Law in 1972. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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