One of the most interesting narratives of the just concluded 2019 midterm elections is the tremendous support shown by the people of Mindanao to candidates supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.
In almost all provinces in Mindanao, the President’s candidates—Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa—occupied the top two spots. Incidentally, Senator Cynthia Villar was consistently in the top 3-4 in most counts in Mindanao provinces. She was No. 1 in Bukidnon, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.
Even Marawi City, which was used by the administration’s critics in their propaganda, voted 8 out of 12 for Duterte’s candidates.
It is a phenomenal show of support by the people of Mindanao to their son. It’s not the first time they supported Duterte, of course. During the 2016 presidential elections, Mindanao provinces delivered landslide victories to their favorite son. His margin of victory was simply astonishing—95% in his home city, between 73% to 89% in the Davao provinces, 68% in Lanao del Sur, 66% in Sulu, 62% in Cotabato, 60% in Compostela Valley, and 58% in Iligan. These margins propelled Duterte to become the first candidate from Mindanao to win a presidential race.
Our very own Nacionalista Party bet Governor Imee Marcos thanked the so-called “Solid North” for voting for her. She quipped, “the North remembers.” That is true. But the administration slate may as well proclaim, “Mindanao delivers.” Because the past two elections have just shown us the emergence of a “Solid South.”
And the tremendous vote of support is not just based on ethnic or geographic affiliations. Mindanao did not just vote for Duterte and the candidates he supported simply because he was from Mindanao. That was part of it.
But a closer analysis would reveal that the people of Mindanao have seen significant changes during the first three years of the Duterte administration. In other words, Duterte delivered for Mindanao.
After decades of neglect, Mindanao is now in the “front and center” of the government’s infrastructure buildup under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program. Mindanao’s infrastructure projects under the program amounted to P126.86 billion in 2018 alone and amounting to P8.4 trillion over the next five years.
My good friend Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez emphasized this when he said: “For many years, the people of Mindanao complained of neglect by Imperial Manila…The many decades of neglect will end now. This island of great promise will be in the front and center of the massive infrastructure program being rolled out by the Duterte administration.”
Such unprecedented public investments for Mindanao are designed to fast-track development in the South as infrastructure has the best multiplier effect on the economy. These infrastructure projects for Mindanao are expected to boost the delivery of basic services, ensure food security, and help the government’s educational programs in the countryside.
The projects include the massive Mindanao Road Development Network Program, covering 2,600 kilometers, which would connect the Zamboanga Peninsula, Southern Mindanao, Central Mindanao, and Caraga Regions.
I am particularly excited about the Mindanao Railway Project which will lead to the transformation of Mindanao’s economy and will give its people the prosperity denied them by the decades-long armed conflict.
These infrastructure projects coupled with the successful conclusion of the peace talks under the Duterte administration as well as its strong record on peace and order are the main factors Mindanao voted heavily for continuation rather than instability. The Mindanao vote in the 2019 midterm polls, just like the national result, is a clear message that they like the current direction of our country.