As loyal allies of Duterte enter the Senate, the Philippine President will face little to no opposition in pursuing his goals, including closer relations with China.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to bolster his powers as senatorial candidates backed by the president dominate the senatorial race, giving the Philippine strongman leader almost unchallenged rule over the country, according to official and final results tallied on May 22. Duterte will likely use this power to advance core policies, most notably, his embrace of China.
According to the final and official tally, candidates supported by the Duterte administration won 9 out of 12 seats in the 24-member Senate, with the rest of the seats going to independent candidates. The liberal-left opposition side, known as the “Otso Diretso”, failed to win even a single seat in the Senate. The last time that an opposition party has suffered this badly was during the time of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
With most of Duterte’s allies winning the senatorial race and none of the opposition, it will bring down the number of anti-Duterte senators to four, of which one is in jail and cannot vote. At least seven senators are needed to block Duterte’s proposed constitutional changes and oppose his policies. With 20 out of the 24 senators who are virtually aligned with the president, this could give the President a supermajority in the Senate, which up till now has served as the balancer of Duterte’s presidential powers and his primary opposition. The victory for Duterte’s candidates will allow him to push through with some of his most controversial plans, which includes making children as young as 9 years old eligible for prosecution and reinstituting the death penalty. In this way, the recent elections may have removed the only restrictions to check Duterte’s power in the Philippines.
If Duterte gets enough support from members in Congress, he could proceed with constitutional reform. In 2016, when Duterte campaigned for the presidency, he promised to transform the nation’s centralized government structure into a federalist government in which greater autonomy is vested in the state, much like America’s government. After winning the Presidency, Duterte delegated the task of drafting constitutional amendments to Congress. The passing of the constitutional amendment was hindered because the opposition members in the Senate ruled against it. But now, with most of the opposition removed, Duterte could proceed with constitutional reform.
Many analysts fear that the constitutional change proposed by Duterte could be a façade for an ambitious goal of becoming an authoritarian-style ruler, eliminating checks and balances on his presidential power and removing term limits. Manila-based Asian geopolitical analyst Richard Heydarian wrote:
The proposals for constitutional amendments that have been put forward so far contain worrying provisions that could see the office of the vice president, long a bastion of opposition, eliminated and the office of the ombudsman and the commission on Human Rights downsized or abolished altogether. Although the current texts under consideration do not mention the lifting of presidential term limits, it could still be added by the new Congress. At the same time, the proposed introduction of a prime minister’s post without term limits and enhanced powers could serve as an alternative office Duterte could pursue. Whether Duterte wants to seize dictator-like powers remains uncertain. But at this time, Duterte’s China-friendly policy is more relevant.
The midterm election was widely seen as a referendum on Duterte’s three-year rule of the Philippines, which have been marked largely by his drug war and his pivot to China. The result of the midterm elections is a resounding endorsement of the Duterte administration’s policies. It is a message from the people that they approve of the direction in which President Duterte is leading the nation.
Since assuming the presidency in 2016, Duterte has pursued warmer ties with China. In contrast with his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, who nurtured a closer relationship with the U.S., Duterte has a long-standing anti-U.S. stance. He has questioned the relevance of the Philippine-American alliance. He refused to confront China with The Hague’s 2016 ruling that invalidated China’s claims in the South China Sea. Instead, he has drawn his nation closer to Russia and China. With his increased power and with most of his critics gone, Duterte now has more freedom to align the Philippines with China.
China and the Philippines have agreed to conduct joint energy exploration in the disputed South China Sea. Just months after Duterte took office, China pledged $24 billion in aid and investment for the Philippines. Just a month before elections, China and the Philippines signed deals to use $12.2 billion in funds from Chinese companies for energy, infrastructure and telecommunications.
“Whatever he’s doing now, it will be with more confidence,” executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform Ramon Casiple said. The Philippines will likely boost already robust ties with China, he added. Now that Duterte has consolidated more power in his hands, and has all his loyal aides elected in Congress, Duterte will have little to no resistance in pursuing his China-friendly policy. “This will mean the elimination of the opposition.” Jose Antonio Custodio of the Manila-based think tank Institute for Policy, Strategy and Development Studies said. “This will be a rubberstamp government that will serve the purposes of the Duterte administration and China”.
A seismic shift is coming to the Philippine-Chinese relations. And it all makes sense when viewed through the lens of Bible prophecy. ‘Kings of the East’ Alliance
The budding friendship between China and the Philippines, facilitated by President Duterte, is not only their doing. The Bible prophesied more than 2,500 years ago that Russia, China and other Asian nations such as the Philippines would form an alliance. Duterte could be the catalyst who will bring the Philippines into China’s orbit. In the April 1968 issue of the Plain truth, the Trumpet’s predecessor, they wrote: Despite its many national, religious and political differences, Asia will ultimately be welded together into a common power bloc. It will ultimately send its military muscle into the Middle East at the return of Jesus Christ. This prophecy is recorded in Revelation 16:12 and 16. Almost nobody in 1968, and very few even a few years ago, would have thought that the Philippines would form an alliance with China. But that is an alliance we see forming today.
Ezekiel 38 prophesies of a union of Asian nations, led by Russia and China, that will play a pivotal role in the end time. The book of Revelation describes a populous Asian bloc called the “kings of the east”. Revelation 9:16 states that these “kings of the east” alliance will field a jaw-dropping army of 200 million men. In his booklet The Prophesied Prince of Rosh, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote: Current events show this Asian army is taking shape already. You can see it in Putin’s growing authoritarianism, and also in his outreach to other Asian powers. When you put India and Japan together with Russia and China, it is easy to see how an army of 200 million soldiers could be formed. With other Asian nations joining in, you quickly reach combined populations of 3.5 to 4 billion people! Under extreme circumstances like those described in these end-time prophecies, it is not hard to imagine 1 in 10 or 20 people going to war. As Duterte consolidates his presidential powers in the Philippines, and as he continues to pursue better relations with China, we could see the Philippines join China in an alliance with multiple other Asian nations. Asian strongmen like Duterte are laying the foundation of this “kings of the east” prophecy to be fulfilled. To understand the significance of the Philippine-China axis and where it is leading, please request your free copy of our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.
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