Qatar ambassador: Filipinos should unite behind new president
Filipinos should set aside their political differences and rally behind their new government and leader, Qatar’s ambassador to the Philippines has said as a controversial national election wraps up.
The formal results of the elections, which also include mayoral, Senate and House of Representative races, won’t be announced until next month.
But polls show that former mayor Rodrigo Duterte, also known as the “Donald Trump of the East,” has beaten his opponents by several million votes.
And just a few hours ago, the outspoken candidate’s main rival Grace Poe conceded defeat in the election, CNN reported.
According to the Qatar Tribune, more than 15,000 Filipino expats in Qatar cast overseas ballots this past month, setting a record in terms of absentee voting here.
Many OFWs appear to have voted for Duterte, though others also expressed dissatisfaction with him.
Duterte has drawn flak for making inflammatory comments in the past, including joking about a gang rape and pledging to mercilessly execute criminals.
According to CNN, he said on Saturday during one of his last campaign speeches:
“If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because as the mayor, I’d kill you.”
Analysts have said his popularity is the result of the disenfranchisement of many Filipinos who hadn’t seen their lot improve under the Aquino administration.
Now that the polls are officially closed, the Philippines ambassador in Qatar Wilfredo Santos has said “the time for all politicking is over.”
According to the Qatar Tribune, he urged his countrymen to get behind the new leader, adding:
“Personally, I expect the new leaders of the Philippines not only to effect improvements in the lives of our people but also to carry out their promises of improving the nationals’ welfare and improving the country’s economic conditions.”
Santos also said that he hopes the new president will visit Doha soon, and that the embassy is already speaking to Qatar’s government about signing agreements related to health, education, culture and other sectors.