Philippine elections: the national is local

Voters in Region 8 exercise their most sacred right to vote for candidates of their choice. (PIA-8 photo by Vino Cuayzon)
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“PHILIPPINE ELECTIONS,” says the British publication The Economist, “are always local and thuggish.” 

The “thuggish”  part every Filipino is, or should be,  familiar with. That’s the “guns and goons” in the “guns, goons, and gold” equation that too often decides the outcome of elections in those places where the police are either too weak to prevent voters from being intimidated, or are themselves among the thugs  in the pay of the local warlord.  These are the hoods responsible for the violence that characterizes most Philippine elections (but which the police always describe as “orderly and peaceful”). At least vote-buying, or the “gold” part that comes in both cash and kind, helps redistribute, rather than death and injury, the wealth that’s been stolen from the people.

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Two elections

US President Obama voting (White House Photo)
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AS ANNOUNCED by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the official election season began last January 10 and will end on June 8 this year. It includes a campaign period starting February and ending in May; election day itself on May 9; the counting of the ballots; and the official proclamation of the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates and their inauguration.

Some cynical souls lament that the results of the triennial exercise—the election of the same scoundrels, incompetents, crooks and clowns and/or their clones—do not justify the 150 days allocated for it. But the unofficial period for campaigning for office is actually far longer, in many cases consisting of the entire three years between congressional and local government elections, and, for the presidential election, the six years during which the previously elected president sits in Malacañang.

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Elections, information, and governance

Ballot box
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IT’S that time again, the filing of certificates of candidacy that’s the prelude to the months-long extravaganza cum freak show that we call elections.

Thanks to the media focus on who’s running for such national offices as the Presidency, the Vice Presidency and the Senate, an observer unfamiliar with the Philippine system can’t be blamed if he or she were to conclude that Philippine elections have nothing to do with community issues.

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Changing the political culture—by campaigning early?

President Noynoy Aquino endorses Mar Roxas
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LIBERAL PARTY (LP) Secretary General Mel Senen Sarmiento says that the LP will run a “positive campaign” to elect Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II to the Presidency.

“It’s just sad that some people are using name-calling and foul personal attacks to bring down their perceived political rivals,” Congressman Sarmiento said. “We at the LP are not only committed to reform the old and corrupt system of governance, we are (also) working hard to change our prevailing political culture.”

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Coming soon, the circus that never left town

Ballot box
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WILL Vice President Jejomar Binay still run for President in 2016 despite his falling approval and preference numbers? Who will be his running mate, if ever? Wily tactician that he is, Binay’s thinking of getting Senator Grace Poe, who’s been rising in the surveys as the electorate’s second most preferred candidate for President.

If Poe runs as Binay’s vice-presidential candidate, that will surely assure him victory next year, despite the devastating impact on his popularity of the many allegations of wrongdoing that’s being dredged up in the Senate practically every week, which include his supposedly taking kickbacks in the construction of the Makati City Hall building, his unexplained wealth and possessions, and even his family’s interests in the company that makes the cakes that Makati presents to senior citizens during their birthdays.

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