Philippine Election System

I. Abstract Philippines as a democratic country hold election as a political process in which the citizens choose their candidates to govern the country. Through conducting election, people’s voice is being heard. Election is said to be the basic in a democratic country, it is the most needed component in order to let the people feel that the country they are living with is a country being governed by them. It should be held free and fair but in contrary to reality, election now is being affected by its so-called “ills”.

Electoral sabotage, electoral violence and vote buying have been its part and parcel in every conduct of Philippine election. Philippine election was considered most of the people as a “dirty election” because of the issues it had undergone. This paper focuses on the “ills” of election in Philippines, specifically on fraud/ electoral sabotage, electoral violence and vote buying. It also includes the manipulation of the result the election by the political elites, the “boboters” (voters) in Philippine election and the awareness of the public on the “ills” of election.

This paper aims to give further information on “ills” of election and be able to add awareness to the public’s information on “ills” of election. II. Introduction Democracy is a world that purrs with respectability. Even states that are not democratic wish to appear democratic, and holding elections is one of the easiest ways to follow some of the forms of democracy even if the state is not democratic.

Elections can serve many purposes for the state than merely the democratic one of allowing the mass of the people to help in the selection of leaders and policies. Election was invented to make democracy possible; but once invented it turned out to have further uses. Election in Philippines has always been become an intense, and most interesting event in our country. The voters of the country always tried to cast their votes in order to participate in election.

But, the voters’ interest to participate in election was being infected with the “ills” of election. Instead of being motivated to vote wisely, the “ills” of election just give the voters the concept of voting just for the sake of earning money and not for the sake of choosing the right candidates for the right position in the office of the government. For many Filipinos, their image of election is that of “guns, goons, and gold” or as “riotous fiesta. ” In areas where violence is not an issue, voters choose among the best performers.

Where violence proliferates, voters either cast their vote in view of ensuring their survival, or stay away altogether. With violence and fraud, election loses credibility as a democratic exercise. Elections merely become a venue for exchange between politicians and the voters, and citizenship and the right to suffrage are fundamentally undermined. Electoral malpractice can be so rampant that it was said in one isolated community so many votes exceeded the number the number of registered voters, perhaps the “birds, bees, flowers, and trees voted”.

As being quoted by Shiela Coronel “Election, therefore is a mirror”. It gives reflection to what our country is. If Philippine election is said to be a “dirty” election, therefore our country as well is dirty, so is that it really means? Or it just implies that people who are involved in election are the one that must be labelled as “dirty” and not the election itself? Because of the power of the vote, the electoral process has been corrupted by unscrupulous politicians, in connivance with irresponsible people. III. Philippine Electoral System

The Philippines elects on national level a head of state (the President) and a legislature. The president is elected for a six-year term by the people. The vice-president is elected at the same time on a separate ballot. The Philippines elects on a local level governors, vice governors, board members, mayors up to the barangay officials and the Sangguniang Kabataan or youth council members which is mandated in the current Constitution of the Philippines and the Local Government Code of 1991. The Congress or Kongreso has two chambers.

The House of Representatives or Kapulungan ng mga Kinatawan has currently 240 seats elected for three-year terms, of which 212 seats are contested in single seat constituencies and, 23 are allotted to party-lists according to a formula, which are only accessible to marginalized and under-represented groups and parties. The Philippine constitution prohibits the House of Representatives to have more than 250 members. The Senate or Senado has 24 members who are elected for six-year terms at-large and do not represent any geographical district.

Half of the Senate is renewed every three years. The Philippines has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form a coalition government. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is responsible for running the elections. Under the Constitution, general elections for the President, Vice President, Congress and local officials occur after the President and Vice President finish their terms. While the Congressional elections occur on mid-term of the incumbent President.

Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections are now done at the same time after the Congressional elections. IV. ILLS of Philippine Elections The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is the agency constitutionally mandated to administer the conduct of elections. The commission records the violence during the start of the campaign season until Election Day. Election- related harassment and violence can range from intimidating and threatening persons with bodily harm, to kidnapping and murder, as well as arson and bombings of strategic locations.

Victims and perpetrators are not limited to the candidates and their campaign staff. Hired goons, private armies, the police and military, as well as armed rebel groups, also figure prominently. A. Fraud/ Electoral Sabotage Electoral sabotage is an illegal interference with the process of an election. Electoral sabotage could be the reason why manipulation of the results of election happens. It could whether be done through increasing the vote share of the favoured candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. Most electoral sabotage happens on the day of election- during the day of election.

Electoral sabotage in Philippines became a law on January 23, 2007, RA 9369 and was approved by the former president Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. Any member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) or Board of Canvassers (BOC), and those who conspire or connive with them shall be made held liable of the case electoral sabotage. As being included in RA 9369, the following are the specific acts that constitute to electoral sabotage: 1. Tampering, increasing or decreasing the votes received by a candidate in any election, and such acts are perpetrated on a large scale or in substantial numbers;

2. Refusal by any member of the BEI or BOC, after proper verification and hearing, to credit the correct votes or deduct such tampered votes, and such acts are perpetrated on a large scale or in substantial numbers; 3. Tampering, increasing and/or decreasing of votes is com- mitted in the election of a national elective office which is voted upon nationwide, and the tampering, increase and/or decrease shall adversely affect the results of the election to the said national office to the extent that losing candidate/s is/are made to appear the winner/s; 4.

Refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct tampered votes is committed in the election of a national elective office which is voted upon nationwide, and the refusal shall adversely affect the results of the election to the said national office to the extent that the losing candidate/s is/are made to appear the winner/s; 5. Tampering, increase and/or decrease of votes committed, regardless of the elective office involved, is accomplished in a single election document, and the number of votes involved exceed five thousand (5,000) votes, and the same adversely affects the true results of the election;

6. Refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct tampered votes perpetrated, is accomplished in a single election document, and the number of votes involved exceed five thousand (5,000) votes, and the same adversely affects the true results of the election; 7. Refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct tampered votes perpetrated, is accomplished in the transposition of the figures/results from one election document to another and the number of votes involved exceed five thousand (5,000) votes, and the same adversely affects the true results of the election;

8. Tampering, increase/s and / or decrease/s of votes perpetrated, where the total votes involved exceed ten thousand (10,000) votes; and 9. Refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct the tampered votes where the total votes involved exceed ten thousand (10,000) votes. Often, political elites are the one who have charges in electoral sabotage since political elites have their “guns, goons and gold”- the 3Gs. This made them possible to do bias on the result of the election. They could use all their 3Gs in order for them win in the election.

Life imprisonment was the penalty being charged to those who are found guilty in doing so. Even our former President Gloria Arroyo who approved the bill of electoral sabotage as a crime into a law was also being charged of the same violation on November 18, 2011. Andal Ampatuan Sr. was also charged of the same case, he was the one being pointed to be the mastermind in the Maguindanao massacre.

The “rich-versus-poor” theme is kept intentionally vague by populist leaders (as they are from the elite themselves) who attempt to mobilize the masses without the need of an extensive “leftist” organization. the decline of the Philippine left meant that a political space opened up (Abinales, 1996). The unorganized masses still provide a tremendous opportunity for would-be populist politicians. B. Electoral Violence Violence disrupts the election process and, at worst, causes failure of elections in a given locality.

Where violence creates disruption, it constitutes an additional factor influencing the decision-making of a voter or particular community of voters. Where the elections are declared a failure, violence de-legitimizes the entire process of citizen participation in a particular area.

The forms and incidence of electoral violence vary according to the different phases as shown in table 1. Table 1: violent incidents and deaths across election periods. 1988199219951998 Pre- election period23 incidents 11 deaths 16 incidents 3 deaths37 incidents 7 deaths44 incidents 7 deaths Campaign period268 incidents 149 deaths 87 incidents 73 deaths127 incidents 80 deaths188 incidents 53 deaths Election day91 incidents 14 deaths 43 incidents 11 deaths59 incidents 16 deaths71 incidents 9 deaths Counting-

Canvassing- Proclamation period 23 incidents 14 deaths11 incidents 2 deaths21 incidents 5 deaths19 incidents 8 deaths Data compiled from the Comelec and the Philippine Daily Inquirer The Omnibus Election Code defines three stages in the conduct of election. For national- level candidates (president, vice president and senators), the election periods covers 90 days before the pre-scheduled election day and 30 days after. The official campaign period lasts 60 days and ends two days before Election Day.

The same process applies to local elections, except that the campaign period is reduced to 45. In practice, however, political parties and politicians have developed campaign technology that manages to circumvent the parameters set by the Omnibus Election Code. Parties and candidates commonly plan in five stages: (1) the pre-campaign period (2) the campaign period, (3) the “ora-de-pelagro” (4) election day itself, and (5) the period of counting, canvassing of votes and proclamation of the winners. The pre-election period starts as early as a year before elections.

This is when parties and candidates build their campaign machinery, launch public relations campaigns, map the political terrain, organize networks and generate resources. During the pre- election period, violence is usually targeted at incumbent officials or potential opposition candidates. The objective is either to eliminate or intimidate prospective rival or to paralyze the machinery of an opponent early on. In the 1998 national and local elections, pre-election violence alone recorded 71 incidents with 39 fatalities.

On rare occasions, pre-election violence is motivated by blood-debts. This happens in districts or provinces where rival political clans monopolize the political scene. In recent elections, there were also indications that unscrupulous politicians resort to kidnapping for ransom in order to raise funds. Police Director General Hermogenes Ebdane hinted at the possibility that some kidnapping incidents in 1998 and 2001, both election years, were motivated by the need to finance the campaign cashtrapped candidates.

Another manifestation of electoral violence is when opposing camps threaten each other’s supporters, and destroy or seize the other’s campaign paraphernalia like posters and streamers. During the campaign period, parties and candidates use various modes of campaigning that fall within, as well as outside, the bounds of the Election Code. The common forms of electoral violence are threats or attacks on candidates or supporters; attack on rallies, headquarters or homes of candidates; clashes between supporters; kidnapping; tearing or seizure of posters; unauthorized carrying of firearms, etc.

Table 1 show not only the campaign period has the highest record of violent incidents, but also that is the period when most deaths occur. The “ora de pelagro” (literally, “hour of danger”) is the most intense and anxiety-filled period, when last minute interventions take place. This begins two days before the actual Election Day. Here parties and candidates are concerned with defending their vote baser while trying to break the voter base and machinery of their opponents. Vote buying and coercion intensify during the ora de peligro.

Voters may be threatened to vote for a candidate or not to vote at all. Bailiwicks are assaulted or homes of ward leaders strafed or burned, and candidates or their campaign managers may be ambushed while doing the last rounds of negotiations. As counter-measures, the COMELC bans liquor drinking and gambling, and strictly enforces the gun ban during this period. While Election Day is about the actual delivery of votes and poll watching, it is also characterized by a high incidence of death and violence, usually triggered by real or suspected fraud.

Election day itself records high incidence of deaths. On this day, many violent incidents are triggered by real or suspected fraud. In the 1998 elections in Maguindanao, for example, COMELEC technicians from Manila hurriedly left the province even before the winning candidate could be proclaimed, after receiving death threats from relatives of losing candidates. There have also been cases where polling stations are forcibly blocked off to prevent voters from casting their vote.

During the counting, canvassing and proclamation period, candidates and their supporters are preoccupied with ensuring that counting and canvassing is orderly and fair. This is done through the hiring of “poll watchers,” who are tasked to monitor the process and file the necessary complaints. Ensuring that votes cast are properly accounted for is crucial since the process of counting and canvassing votes is prone to human error and fraud. During the counting of votes, poll watchers of opposing parties sometimes clash with one another. It has even happened that watchers are harassed or kidnapped by the other camp.

Worse, some groups deliberately create a situation of “failure of elections” by sabotaging the electricity supply to stop the counting, or burning down the polling place. During the canvassing, violence takes the form of attacks on election officials or poll watchers, dispersal to disrupt the canvassing or arson to destroy the canvassing results altogether. C. Vote Buying Vote buying was never been new in our country during Election Day; it is the one of the main reasons why a citizen goes to Comelec and registers to be a voter. Vote buying is considered to be an illegal act but still exists.

Vote buying could be a form of reward for voting such candidate. Vote buying is not always in a form of a monetary it could be either through giving free snacks during Election Day, special treats to voters and even the delivery of public welfare to local communities. How does vote buying transforms into votes? Receiving money creates a sense of debt and gratitude; repaying this debt is a special norm in Philippine society. Aside from the mechanism of vote buying, voters from the lower class make election as their opportunity to make demands from candidates.

Most of them continued to keep on asking “something” from the candidates and from these candidates he could never say no to these demands since he also needs “something” from the voters who are demanding from him. Voters know that when they ask “something” from the candidates they would be liable for an exchange of what they ask and the best payment the voters could pay to those candidates are their votes. Voters nowadays don’t bother voting wisely; instead they vote for an exchange of money or “something” from the candidates, this may be the

reason why they are being labelled as “boboters”. According to Atty. Romeo V. Pefianco vote-buying is the work of “professionals” who have mastered just one trade. The buyer has a long list of vote sellers in his mind and could identify his alaga who transferred, died, and ceased voting.

And the winning candidate remembers payback time by: 1) giving employment to his vote-buyers’ nearest kin, 2) rewarding them with pork or public works contracts, 3) giving promotion to the ward leader’s children or kin employed as teachers, supervisors, janitors, etc., and 4) keeping in touch with them in a show of recognition. Abolishing vote buying could be made possible because in one state of South American state law enforcers have a simple doctrine on dangerous drugs, “there are no sellers if they cannot find buyers” this might be applied Philippine election. V.

Awareness of the Public on the so- called “ILLS” According to Anthony Downs, “people will vote if it outweighs the cost”, it implies that people will take the risk of voting if and only if they could get benefits from voting.

One of the benefits they considered to have is earning money through selling their votes to a particular candidate. Voters know that selling their votes is an illegal act but, they also know that through it they could earn extra money and it outweighs more, than voting in legal way without earning money. According to my interview with ordinary people in Tinago, Ozamiz City, “during election we know that electoral fraud and electoral violence exists, sometimes we are threaten by it and our willingness to vote are being affected since electoral sabotage was always been part of the election.

We think that when we vote legally it just become useless since they (political elites) would still manipulate the results so it is much better if we sell our votes and vote illegally. ” I also conducted an interview with some professionals in Tinago, Ozamiz City and their opinion on the “ills” of election was: “we do know that it exists (“ill”) and continued to exist but, what can we do? Vote buying, electoral sabotage and violence has been part of the election, it seems that those things made the election more exciting but it also had its consequences- it lessens the interest of the people to vote honestly.

It would be okay if we accept money from those candidates who are trying to buy our votes, if in actual election we would vote for those candidates who deserve to be voted not because of their moneys but because of their capacity to lead. ” With the interviews being conducted I observed that both professionals and ordinary persons knew that the so called “ills” of election exists and at some point they have the same idea about it. Indeed, “ills” of election is really rampant in our society today. VI. The Challenge (Conclusion) Undeniably, election was a fundamental to a democratic country.

In election people are allowed to vote on their choice, nobody could interfere with them. It is the people’s voice that should be heard since it is their right. But in contrary, it is not the people’s voice that is being heard. Voters’ votes are being bought by those candidates who were very eager to have power in the government. Manipulation of the results of the election, sabotaging the conduct of election, violence during election which may lead to the postponement of election- these are considered to be the “ills” of election in which it is still not curable until now.

During election, there are two people involve and should be blame why “ills” of election continued to exist. First, the candidates who are greedy of power and is willing to do all the means just to have power even if it don’t conforms to the norms of the society that contributes to the “ills” of election. Second, the voters who allowed themselves to be used as an instrument by the candidates to do such illegal acts that will lead to the “ills” of election. “Ills” of election are considered to be the reason why voters are off from the election proper.

Voters’ votes were being bought, voters’ choice are being manipulated, voters’ rights are being stepped by those candidates who are craving for power. The rewards of public office are sizeable enough to drive local politicians to cheat and kill. Contracts and licenses, subsidized loans from government-controlled corporations, allocation from legislators’ countryside development funds (also known as pork barrel) and infrastructure projects, where a certain percentage of the contract price is skimmed off as a matter of standard operating procedure.

As a challenge, Comelec must ensure just, honest, serene and organized election. Stricter rules, firmer penalties and hasty action on election offences should be prioritized to retrieve the image of Philippine elections. With regard to effectual functioning, much depends on the people and institutions in charge of overseeing the elections. VII. References Power and Choice by Phillips Shively.