Reforming Philippine Elections

While top election commissioners in Thailand accused of manipulating electoral results are now in jail, not a single Philippine election official has been convicted for electoral fraud or corruption.

Philippine electoral system is one of the most inefficient in the world. It would take more than a month before results can be known after election day since counting of votes is still done manually. Transmission of election returns from municipal level to the province capital may even alter electoral results.

Resolving electoral protests can be very expensive and may drag for many years. There are cases when the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) will announce that the incumbent mayor, councilman or Member of Parliament are not the real winners in the last elections after these officials have wrongfully assumed their office for almost three years or just a few months before the scheduled next elections.

The political crisis in the Philippines today is largely due to the allegations that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cheated in the 2004 elections. An audio recording of a conversation between an election officer and a woman believed to be Arroyo herself was released to the public last year which triggered mass rallies calling for the President’s resignation.

While criminal charges have been filed against the election officer, the case is moving too slowly because of the perceived bias of the prosecutor handling the case at the Lower Court.

In a bid to overhaul Philippine elections, Senator Richard Gordon is pushing for the modernization of ballot-counting technology. He wants the Philippines to seriously study the “fast and efficient counting of electoral ballots in India.”

ComelecAKo defends the COMELEC, its policies, programs and even the embattled election commissioners. However, he is also an ardent supporter of genuine electoral reforms.

A new initiative in the blogosphere to reform Philippine elections is BotanteKAMI. Its avowed aim is the following:

This is dedicated to the idea that is dedicated to the idea that elections belong to the people. Here, we can share information about how to take back control of elections by increasing the pro-activity of our participation in elections, improving voter vigilance, and increasing the accountability of election administrators.

Carl Marc Ramota points out the paradox in the partylist system; where millionaires instead of the poor are elected as partylist representatives in Congress.

The COMELEC Online Press Room provides the official position of the election body on different issues.

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