Three years ago, Rodrigo Duterte was elected largely on the basis that he wasn’t Benigno Aquino III and wasn’t the “presidential type,” and somehow that would have added up to him doing the right thing for the Philippines.
Duterte is not on the ballot this time. Yet his brash manners and trash language defined Monday’s midterm elections. A key theme has been the danger of believing in false messiahs. It’s a spectacle of dynastic convolutions, plot advances, competing loyalties and thematic machinations.
Official results from the Commission on Elections are expected in the coming days. Particularly there are few things to ponder as administration-aligned candidates are giving a boost to Duterte’s hold on power.
- Delay in mailing of ballots for overseas absentee voters was caused by the slow release of funds from Manila. Notices were issued by consulates and embassies for voters to personally claim ballots at their expense, further to the disenfranchisement of many.
- Historic recorded number of breakdowns and errors in electronic voting machines. Glitches were experienced on more than 400 voting machines, triple the quantity encountered in 2016. In some areas, the memory cards allotted to transmit the votes were malfunctioning.
- Vote transmission rate was down with an seven-hour gap for the first to the second batch of results. Even, the program that was supposed to push data from the transparency server had technical problems.
- The incumbent president accepts vote buying as a norm in Philippine elections. Reportedly, there were sample ballots with names of candidates fastened with cash and distributed to voters.
- Law enforcement officers were actively campaigning against progressive party-lists and promoting administration-backed senatorial candidates. Police were illegally distributing pamphlets to discredit Bayan Muna and Kabataan party-list groups.
Blatant is the Duterte regime’s attack on the Filipino people, compounded by technology and weaponized legal means. Lost in translation are the actual votes of the electorate.
On the final reckoning, while there is no doubt the need to question the general conduct and results of the elections, we must hold on to the reality that the people cannot vote their way towards genuine social change.
BAYAN-Canada asserts that our political participation goes beyond the ballot box. We have to shake ourselves out of this and shift the conversation to addressing the basic needs of the common people. Blame not the voters; it is the system that is flawed so the system needs to be changed.
This can be done by winning political power, not merely through the electoral process, but by organizing large proportions of the populace (including minority voters and more importantly, the significant number of disenfranchised non-voters) to raise their consciousness in building a mass movement for national freedom and democracy with a socialist perspective.
Vote for genuine agrarian reform!
Vote for national industrialization!
Vote for independent foreign policy!
Vote for just and lasting peace in the Philippines!
eleksBAYAN Canada, an overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), is an alliance of organizations of Filipino migrant workers, women and youth, indigenous people, church people, healthcare workers and professionals committed to advancing the cause of genuine national independence, people’s democracy and a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.