The Philippine National Election 2016: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

By Pauline Eadie

 Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in May 2016. Arguably Duterte’s electoral success was down to his straight talking approach and “authoritarian nostalgia”. This article reviews the highs and lows of his campaign and the challenges before him.



On 30 May 2016 the Congress of the Philippines duly declared Rodrigo Duterte, former Mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, the winner of the 2016 presidential elections. Duterte won the presidential race with over 38% of votes cast. More than 16 million Filipinos voted for the man dubbed “The Punisher” by a Time magazine article in 2002.[1] Runner up, Mar Roxas, the nominated standard-bearer of the previously incumbent Liberal party under President Benigno Aquino III, trailed Duterte by more than six million votes. Meanwhile in the vice presidential campaign Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was narrowly beaten into second place by Mar Roxas’ running mate, Leni Robredo. In the Philippines the presidential and vice presidential elections are separate. The winners do not have to be elected from the same party.


The Good

 Philippine politics is dynastic[2] and dominated by a narrow group of ruling elite. At all levels it is common procedure for government posts to be passed around between family members. Philippine society is characterised by severe inequality. The top ten percent of the population in the Philippines control 76% of the country’s wealth.[3] 2015 Philippine Statistics Authority figures show that 26.3% of the population is living in poverty.[4] Self-rated poverty in the same year is recorded as 51%[5]. Under the 2010-2016 Aquino administration the Philippines enjoyed an average GDP growth rate of 6.3%. Clearly economic growth is not translating into an improvement of the lives of a significant percentage of the Philippine population.

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About the Author

eadie-webDr. Pauline Eadie is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham. She is Deputy Director of the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies (IAPS). Her most recent book is The Evolution of Military Power in the West and Asia published with Routledge’s Global Security Studies series.  


1. Zabriskie, Phil (2002) ‘The Punisher’, Time, 19 July. Available at:,9171,265480,00.html. Accessed 9 June 2016.
2. Simbulan, Dante C. (2005) The Modern Principalia: The Historical Evolution of the Philippine Ruling Oligarchy, University of the Philippines Press: Quezon City.
3. Credit Suisse ( 2014) Global Wealth Report. Available at: Accessed 9 June 2016.
4. Philippine Statistics Authority (2015) Statistical Figures. Available at: Accessed 9 June 2016.
5. Gavilan, Jodesz (2015) ‘SWS: 51% of Filipinos think they’re poor’, Rappler, 5 May. Accessed 9 June 2015.
6. Kine, Phelim (2015) ‘Rodrigo Duterte: The Rise of the Philippines’ Death Squad Mayor’, 17 July. Available at: Accessed 9 June 2016.
7. 1193 Journalists killed since
8. Mijares, Primitivo (1976) The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’, Tatay Jobo Elizes (self-published).

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.