Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Automated Election, Voting Culture, Religious Bloc Voting, Territorial Bailiwick, and Party Politics

Written by Chester B. Cabalza

Automation Election and Poll Survey

The country recently experienced a first nationwide automation election on May 10, 2010 resulting to a clean, credible, and “generally-trouble free” election system despite of minor glitches and qualms that our historic computerized election will fail.

Because of this, we give credence to and our deepest gratitude to all the BEIs, teachers, media, AFP, PNP, COMELEC, and fellow voters for making our election a success!

The fastest counting of votes we ever experienced. We saw the downfall of some competent leaders like Fr. Panlilio in Pampanga, political dynasty suddenly becomes divided among warring families in Abra, and the rise of sleeping political dynasty of the Dy's in Isabela.

But there is this Filipino thinking that they would not 'waste' their vote on someone who is least likely to win. Instead, they will vote for the one seemingly topping the surveys. Sometimes, Filipinos no longer care to check the platforms (even the promises) of candidates, and they just go for who the majority seem to be voting. But very few will 'sacrifice' their votes in the surveys and follow their conscience despite of the unpopularity of the candidate.

Pulse Asia voter's preference survey of 1,800 representative adults, 18 years old, and above with a plus or minus two percentage points error margin at the 95 percent confidence level using face-to-face interviews last 10 January 2010, five months prior to the election, revealed the following data.

Those that were surveyed said that they opted for their candidates because:

- not corrupt 26%
- caring for the poor 22%
- can do/is doing/will do something 14%
- helps/is helping others 11%
- a good person 10%
- used to governing/has experience 7%

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, the president-apparent remained the favorite in the preference from among the upper socioeconomic classes ABC and even D with 43% (NCR), 33% (Luzon), 39% (Visayas) and 36% for class E.

Voting Culture

It is extremely difficult to assess and determine voters' preference across the region in our archipelagic country. However, there are certain things that seem to possess capabilities to sway voters' choice in the Philippines. One of these is ethno-linguistic affiliation or region of origin of the candidates. The so-called "sense of identity" and "regionalism" runs high in this particular criterion. A candidate's existing political network of local politicians is also crucial.

However, there are certain surprises which depends on how does one analyze the recent turn out of the automation poll. Erap, who has been ousted on account of plunder is showing solid following and finished second in the presidential race with eight million plus, and even bested Villar who has invested much in the race. Many belittled his second attempt at the presidency, even going as far as saying that he might have lost his senses. This only shows how forgiving culture we are (forgive and forget). Also, Erap's popularity and personality is legendary.

Religious Bloc Voting

We often see candidates going brouhaha over the blessing of religious leaders to anoint them and secure a 100 percent vote from their religious organization. Thus, religion plays a significant role during our elections. Some finds this oppressive of what a true democracy is all about because members of certain groups are dictated upon and not at liberty to choose their own candidates. It can be that their democratic right to choose and vote is violated. Block voting is a major flaw to our democracy.

While there might be some truth in the INC-bloc voting, perhaps 80-90%, would follow their religious leaders in their doctrinal belief that members of their religion must have one judgment.

Hence, a religious voting does not guarantee victory such as the case of Mar Roxas and Gibo Teodoro who were defeated despite of massive support and endorsement from two different religious organizations.

In one of the blogs online, a blogger debunks the belief that religious group's bloc voting as a myth and fiction. One of the instances he described was the 2004 presidential election when Gloria Arroyo was anointed by a religious group. However, despite of blessing, 2004 presidential election coincided with electoral fraud and filled with cheating controversy courtesy of the "Hello Garci" tapes.

Hence, the Catholic religion has always been liberal when it comes to voter's preference following its teachings of "FREEWILL".

If religious voting bloc has been challenged, another contention of the author is, there is no indication of a solid NPA and MILF bloc voting. In the recent automated poll, leftist candidates like Liza Masa and Satur Ocampo, failed to win any seat in the senate. This can generally be inferred that their voting support is waning.

Popularity Vote

Popularity seems to be a big factor. A popular candidate has advantage in Philippine politics. Name recalls matter most to voters. However, "popularity" has also evolved over the years. Albeit, we have seen big stars lost in our suffrage history, like the king of Philippine Movies FPJ in 2004 and the once ousted actor-president Erap this year, and other starlets to name a few.

Fame and reputation is now a factor in the popularity advantage of celebrities running for office.

Territorial Bailiwick

Based on the election results for president and vice president, we cannot say that there is a provincial or local vote as may be seen in the landslide votes for Noynoy Aquino.

Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro is considered to have better machinery and support of local leaders since he was endorsed by the incumbent president, however, he ranked fourth in the automated presidential election.

There are areas considered to be the bailiwick of one or another candidate. This proves helpful for automatic affinity when someone is running for a high office originating from your hometown.

Filipinos can be regionalistic at times and they have biases for people to whom they can identify with. In the Visayas, people will root for their fellow "Bisaya". Cebuanos for sure are naturally aversive of what they call as "Tagalogs".

Clans in Mindanao can become very violent especially in ARMM region. Most probably, people will vote according to who can give them the best protection. It is sad that sometimes, people from Mindanao vote at gunpoint. This may also be happening in other places but it is probably in Mindanao where it is apparent.

Party politics

Party politics do not seem to play a major role in the voting culture of Filipinos. After EDSA I, an ambitious candidate may now choose a party he likes based on resources and machinery the party can offer him.

We have seen political prostitutes and butterflies every election seasons. Party affiliation may matter the candidate but it does not seem to be a crucial factor for the voter, especially because the competing parties do not necessarily offer different platforms or solutions to the problems of the country today.

They offer the same prescriptions to reduce poverty, improve on our education, and prevent corruption in the government. But those are just sweet promises never been realized.


For the citizenry to trust the new government, it is important for goods and services to be allocated immediately so that the general public will feel that democracy in our country is indeed working.

Filling up the bureaucracy the right way is also one of the means to get the citizenry to trust the new government. the president-apparent Aquino, during his campaign, promised a corruption-free Philippines.

This country has seen numerous bright minds whose skills have been used in the wrong and perverted ways. There are those who capitalized on their so-called expertise and intelligence to enrich themselves and rob the unsuspecting public of what they rightfully own.

A number of 'tainted' red-taped agencies (BIR, Customs, Immigration, etc.) must be cleansed but should serve well the public.

The new president must be careful in forming his Cabinet because people will ultimately judge him based on who the people surround him. New and young, fresh and competent bureaucrats, technocrats, civil servants, and advisers must be appointed.

The armed forces is in need of reforms or re-evaluation.

The ultimate concern for the new administration is to make the people feel its presence. Make the people feel that their primary needs and concerns are being addressed.

The agencies tasked to ensure the health and social well-being of the Filipinos (DOH, DSWD, DepEd) must be given more funding.

The next administration must look into the population policy of the country to solve root problems. If not watched, the population will have doubled by 2033 and may reach 200 million by 2042. The growth rate is extremely high compared with competitive ASEAN neighbors.

Although we have a young population with 50% under 21 years old, but it's facing myriad of very serious problems. Like shortage of physicians - one doctor for every 28,493 people; one government nurse for every 16,986 people; one government midwife for every 5,193 people; and only one rural health-care unit for every 29,746 people.

We should protect our heroes, the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who pour in remittances to our budget coffers.

We should reverse brain drain. Our country needs 9,000 additional teachers with the arrival of new students this coming June.


Many thanks to the guys of the Institute of National Security Studies (Chief Otum, Manmar, Au, Segfrey, Angie, and Me) for converging some of our opinions here.

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