‘Same problems’ hounded polls

CEBU. Voters troop to the Cebu City Central School in Cebu City to cast their vote Monday, May 13, 2019. (Arni Aclao/ SunStar file)

PHILIPPINE elections still need a lot of improvement.

That’s what Grace Bualat, a faculty member from the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance, thought after the midterm local and national elections last May 13.

Problems that dogged the process since the country adopted an automated election system four elections ago were not addressed, she said.

In fact, it was worse in last week’s elections because of the number of reported damaged SD (secure digital) cards, vote counting machines that malfunctioned resulting in some ballots getting exposed, glitches in some election transparency servers and voter registration verification machines that did not function in some areas.

Not addressed

Bualat said these could have been prevented since there was a final testing and sealing days prior to the elections, but these were not fixed.

The technical problems encountered could fuel doubt and distrust among voters and make them question the credibility of the elections.

“The innumerable glitches gravely affected the integrity of the May 2019 electoral process and it had further fueled the vicious cycle of Filipinos’ distrust in democratic institutions and processes,” Bualat said.

Bualat also saw the need to educate voters.

According to her, many still chose popular candidates, especially those who appeared on TV.

Election results challenged the “intelligent voter” stature of the Cebuanos, she said.

Bualat also lamented reports of vote buying and selling despite government efforts to stop both practices. A number of Filipinos still do not understand their long-term effects, she said.

She pointed out that “Dutertismo” worked well since most of the candidates the President endorsed won, not just in the senatorial, but also in the local level.

“Dutertismo worked in the local arena but it was no magic at all. It was well planned and very strategic,” said Bualat.

Some candidates took advantage of Duterte’s high satisfactory rating by seeking his endorsement, she said.

Election drama

The May 13 elections, according to Bualat, were about a downfall, the rise and the return of some famililar political names.

“The landscape is still the same. There is still political patronage and political dynasty,” she said.

Cebu City Mayor-elect Edgar Labella’s victory over Tomas Osmeña could be linked to the victories of Governor-elect Gwen Garcia and Fifth District Congressman-elect Duke Frasco as they were all under the PDP-Laban banner and were endorsed by the President.

Bualat said Labella should address allegations of harassment and intimidation experienced by supporters of his rival Osmeña during the election and campaign periods.

“Failure to address these might gravely hurt the legitimacy of his administration,” she said.


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