Last Monday, millions of Filipinos all over the world exercised their right to cast their votes for the country’s next set of rulers.
While my presidential candidate did not win, I was heartened and satisfied with the way the elections played out. They were largely free and fair. There was election-related violence ahead of the polls in Palawan, but nationwide, this was one of the safest and most honest elections the country has ever held. It also boasts one of the highest voter turnouts in history. The results were also delivered extremely fast. And while there were hiccups with the automated voting, it was not the disaster some had predicted.
While Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has clearly won the presidency, the Vice Presidential race is still undecided. The unofficial quick count of votes shows that Leni Robredo leads over Bong Bong Marcos by over 200,000 votes. Marcos however will not concede and has alleged that the Liberal Party and that Robredo herself, cheated. Despite his claims to the media, he has not filed an official complaint to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which might be because he has no proof of his allegations. As an astute commentator once noted, “A Filipino politician never loses, he is only cheated.”
What is amusing is that Marcos raised no issues of cheating when the race was close, but he was ahead of Robredo. His allegations only started once Robredo overtook him. The irony of a Marcos complaining about cheating would be hysterical if it wasn’t so infuriating.
COMELEC will convene all the House and Senate canvassers on May 25 to tally the official votes. Until then I will heed Leni Robredo’s call for calm and patience, and to accept whatever results are found to be official.
I truly find election season so depressing. I hate seeing the pervasive vote-buying, empty promises, the intimidation and the violence. I get frustrated by huge groups of people who vote for candidates based on popularity rather than on any skills, experience or performance (cough *Pacquiao* cough). This particular election cycle was brutal and I think everyone is relieved that it is over. I wonder if the broken friendships will heal over time or whether the politicians will have succeeded in further fragmenting our already divided society.
I often wonder if the Philippines is actually ready for democracy. To have a true, successful democracy I believe you need to have an educated populace, and minimal corruption. We have neither. As long as people are willing to vote popularity over substance and for the highest bidder, we will struggle to change the current system.
However, this is what we have, and we have to make the best of it. It will be interesting to see if President Elect Duterte will make the structural changes that this country needs to further its development. He is already talking about passing the Freedom of Information Bill, which would be a massive step towards accountability and transparency. Soon we will see whether his performance will match his promises.
I look forward to seeing in the coming weeks and months how our new leaders will serve. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!