The votes that have been reflected in the COMELEC Transparency Servers and reported in real time by various media outfits and citizen watchdogs seem to show one thing—a landslide victory for the tandem of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos and Mayor Sara Duterte. Their victory was decisive. I congratulate the presumptive President and Vice President on a disciplined and well-run campaign and wish them well as they begin the difficult task of healing a divided nation and, more critically, directing the country’s economic recovery.
The overwhelming number of votes received by the tandem clearly indicates a strong mandate from our people. Both Bongbong and Inday Sara received more than 31 million votes. It is a staggering number. It simply demonstrates the desire of our people and is an affirmation of the message of unity expounded by the UniTeam during the campaign. I think the 31 million votes is a statement from our people that they have had enough of the negativity arising from political conflicts. The problems of the country, the difficulties faced by our people in their existential lives are far more important than the quarrels of politicians. It is time to get down to the business of solving the problems of the country and delivering on the promises made to our people.
I also congratulate the presumptive new members of the Senate for the 19th Congress. It might be a bit biased but I would be remiss of my duty as a proud father if I do not mention the apparent victory of my son, former Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar. With the transparency servers showing more than 98% of the total election returns, Mark ranks 6th with more than 19 million votes. To me, this is a validation of the hard work Mark put in as one of the stewards of President Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program. Mark’s apparent victory is proof that even amidst all the political noises, our people can recognize hard work, talent, and persistence. Mark will now join a 24-member upper chamber that is expected to address key issues we are facing—economic recovery, pandemic-proofing our country, as well as political and electoral reforms.
The House of Representatives will also play a key role in achieving the vision of unity and prosperity for the country. Newly-elected members will have to show our people that they deserve the new mandate they were given. This early, Leyte Representative and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez is seen as the frontrunner for the Speakership of the lower chamber. This is a difficult task. I was Speaker of the House from 1998 to 2000 and I can tell you that it is a difficult job. The first order of the day is to find a way to manage more than 200 diverse interests and direct them to a common goal. Not an easy task but I am confident that the experience of Rep. Romualdez will make a big difference. He is, in my mind, perfectly suited for the job. That is the reason why the Nacionalista Party—all its elected members in Congress—will support his run for the Speakership.
Returning to the House is my daughter, Camille Villar who handily won a second term as Representative of the Lone District of Las Piñas City. More than anything, Camille’s sterling performance during her first term catapulted her to receiving a fresh mandate from the people of Las Piñas. She was Deputy Majority Leader during her first term and focused on legislation on women, education and health. The 19th Congress will face old and new problems and issues but I am confident that Camille has the intelligence and temperament to help the “House of the People” succeed.
This is a new beginning for the country. After the acrimony of the past and the recent campaign, let us make sure we fulfill our promise to the Filipino—that we will serve God and our country, above all else.