Rodrigo Duterte promised during his campaign to change to a federal parliamentary form of government. Rodrigo Duterte promised during his campaign to change to a federal parliamentary form of government. Czar Dancel / Reuters

Duterte declares victory in Philippines election and promises new constitution

Philippine politician Rodrigo Duterte, who has an unbeatable lead in unofficial tallies in the country’s presidential race, will push to rewrite the constitution and change to a federal system of government, his spokesman has said.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning a few hours after Duterte claimed victory, Peter Lavina said the plan “will require a wide national consensus beginning with asking congress to call for a constitutional convention”.

He added: “There will be major rewriting of our constitution.”

Duterte, 71, had promised during a foul-mouthed campaign to change from a centralised system to a federal parliamentary form of government, a policy that has been popular in provinces far from the capital.

As mayor for two decades in the southern city of Davao, Duterte has complained that “Manila gets everything so regions are forced to beg”.

Later on Tuesday, Duterte, who has pledged to kill tens of thousands of criminals and joked about raping an Australian missionary, said he would “behave” as president. “Grant me this little [time] to banter with you Filipinos.”

Lavina said policies Duterte imposed in Davao could be implemented nationwide, including a late-night drinking ban and a curfew for unescorted minors after 10pm.

“This liquor ban is because we have to work the next day,” he said. “Nothing to do with denying us of our freedoms.”

“Incidentally, we have a ban on loud karaoke [in Davao] because everyone has to go to bed,” he said.

Lavina added that although Duterte could use an executive order, it would be best done through a consultative “democratic process of legislating these measures”.

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A preliminary ballot count by the accredited election commission showed Duterte has close to 39% of counted votes. The unofficial results suggest the tough-talking mayor, who has pledged to kill criminals en masse during his six-year term, will win when the official tally is announced.

The two runners-up, Grace Poe and Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas, have already conceded, virtually assuring Duterte victory. Filipinos also voted for a vice-president and more than 18,000 local and national representatives in the archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands.

The vice-presidential race has been much tighter, with lawyer and social activist Leni Robredo just 0.4 points ahead of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of the late dictator who was widely expected to win.

(Philippine mayor Rodrigo Duterte weeps as he visits his parents’ grave after he claimed victory in
the country’s election.)

The official election commission could take days to announce the final results.

The general election in south-east Asia’s oldest democracy saw a record engagement with an estimated 80% turnout of the 54 million registered voters.

Key issues have been the economy, crime and corruption. Duterte was perceived to be the anti-establishment candidate in a country frustrated with the slow pace of change and a small clique from the political elite in power for years.

Alcohol was banned for two days during the voting period. Just hours before polls opened on Monday, seven people were shot dead when a convoy of vehicles was ambushed in Rosario, just south of Manila.

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Read 2763 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 May 2016 20:05
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