Counting and transmission of voting results in a matter of minutes. Winners declared a few hours after the closing of precincts. Fewer election protests. Presidential bets conceding defeat a day after elections. These were all unthinkable 3 years ago but became a reality in the past 24 hours as the Philippines successfully conducted its first automated election system.
Voter turnout was estimated at 75 percent, though this figure could have been higher if voting machines didn’t malfunction in several polling centers during the first few hours of the voting period. Many voters were also disappointed with the long lines that greeted them in voting precincts. There were also voters whose names were not included in the official list of voters. Despite these problems, the high number of voters who trooped the voting centers gave credibility to the election process which is essential in a democratic society.
Public school teachers who manned the precincts throughout the country also deserve to be honored. They are the unsung heroes of the elections by being at the frontline of the new voting system. They were assisted by thousands of volunteers who made sure that elections would remain peaceful and clean.
Kudos also to media networks for their vigilance and comprehensive coverage of the elections. Citizen journalists should be commended as well for actively monitoring and reporting the conduct of elections in the country.
The program to reform and modernize the elections should still be pursued because the recently concluded elections didn’t eradicate old problems like vote buying. Rich candidates and parties still used their wealth and influence to buy the votes of the poor. Voting machines may be accurate but the ballot filled out by the voter is already compromised because it didn’t reflect the true sentiment of the voter.
Politician warlords still deployed private armies to terrorize voters and supporters of their rival candidates. Many voters were intimidated not to vote on Election Day. Bomb explosions rocked various parts of the country, especially in Mindanao. There are fewer election-related deaths this year but still it indicates the need to promote a better and more peaceful election process. Elections should not lead to senseless deaths and injuries.
It is notable that showbiz actors and comedians are leading in the senate race but many intellectuals believe this is not a good joke. Foreigners are amused that former First Lady Imelda Marcos has successfully resurrected her political career by clinching a seat in Congress but older Filipinos are afraid that the crimes of the Marcos regime seem to be forgotten already. World boxing champion Manny Pacquaio has finally ‘knocked-out’ a politician as he prepares to take a seat in Congress, fueling speculation that he would finally retire from boxing.
The funniest episode in yesterday’s election was when presidential bet Joseph Estrada ‘forgot’ to vote for his running mate, Vice Presidential hopeful Jejomar Binay. Estrada denied that he ‘junked’ Binay but photographers have proof of the ballot which Estrada fed into the voting machine. Deliberate or not, it is funny that Estrada committed this blooper.