The expected victory of senatorial candidates backed by President Rodrigo Duterte in the midterm elections is proof that Filipinos want the reforms started by his administration to continue, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the initial assessment after unofficial results released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed at least eight of the current top 12 senatorial candidates were the ones endorsed by the President.

“The victory of the administration’s candidates and the shut-out of the Otso Diretso candidates send a strong message that our people yearn for stability and continuity of the genuine reforms that the administration started. They yearn for a constructive – not obstructionist – Senate, which will help in crafting the President’s legislative agenda,” Panelo stressed.

Duterte continues to push for a shift to the federal system of government to spread wealth and resources evenly among the regions.

The eight Duterte-endorsed Senate aspirants currently at the Top 12 are reelectionist senators Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, and Koko Pimentel III; former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Bato dela Rosa, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, and former Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino.

The Palace spokesperson acknowledged that although the results were still unofficial, there is an “unstoppable trend” towards the victory of administration-backed senatorial candidates, as a result of “the Duterte magic.”

He said it was clear that majority of the voting Filipinos prefer senators who would support the President’s legislative agenda.

“Undoubtedly, the Duterte magic spelled the difference. The overwhelming majority of the electorate ha(s) responded to the call of the President to support those whom he said would help pass laws supportive of his goal to uplift the masses of our people and give them comfortable lives they richly deserve,” Panelo said.

“The Duterte magic spelled the difference.”

He also pointed out that Filipinos rejected the “negative propaganda”, including the controversial issues, such as the extra-judicial killings, the drug war, West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), among others, used by the opposition against the President and his allies.

Panelo lauded the Filipino electorate for “expressing their will in the strongest and unequivocal manner” by voting for administration-backed candidates.

He thanked the opposition candidates and their supporters for “fighting a good battle” and reminded them that while the Palace respects dissent, they should also respect the electoral majority’s choice of senators.

“As we have said, we respect dissent as it vitalizes the democracy of our nation. In the end, however, it is the will of the people that prevails,” Panelo said.

“In the end, it is the will of the people that prevails.”

“While we expect dissent to continue, we hope that the same be demonstrated with fairness and within the bounds of the law, as well as with deference to the leaders duly chosen by the electorate,” he added.

Panelo, meanwhile, described the elections as “successful” and urged all Filipinos to support the government for the betterment of the country.

“With the successful holding of the elections, we have demonstrated to the world that we have a great order for democracy that can rise above the loud political noise,” he said.

“We only have one government and one nation. Together, let us support it for the betterment of the Philippines that we all love,” he added.

Should the administration-backed senatorial candidates win, Panelo said he still expects the Senate to remain “independent.”

“The history of the Senate shows members of that chamber independent ever since. No Senate has ever been under any President. They always rise above parties and considerations when issues involve national interest, national security, and the interest of the Filipino people,” Panelo said.

He said he also expects the senators backed by the President to express their dissent in policies of the administration despite their ties with the President.

“They have to support the President when the agenda of the President is for the good of the people and they will have to oppose it if they feel in their conscience that it run(s) counter to the interests of the nation,” Panelo added.

Panelo said the President will also not ask the opposition to join the majority bloc, noting that being part of the opposition makes for a “vibrant democracy.”

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