May 10, 2010

[Philippines] Elections 2010

Well, today's the big day. By the time this entry publishes, thousands of Filipinos will already be at the polling stations around the country demonstrating that democracy still lives. Sure, our politics are insanely messy, if not entertaining, but it is what we have and we have to concede that we're still a lot better off than some other countries out there.

I largely try not to get too involved with the local political scene apart from the occasional commentary. I guess I'm pretty much jaded in that manner - I've reached a point in my thinking where I don't really care about who's in charge of the country more since it feels more like a "same shit, different day" kind of thing. We get all worked up about who is going to win as president and then the groups will form against the president but in the end, we'll just get by as we always do.

It's both cynical and practical in that sense, but it's me for now and I'm not going to apologize for it. But don't get me wrong, I'm not proud of it either.

So in commemoration of today's elections, here's a run down of my concerns about this year's elections.

Nonoy as the Messiah - one of the biggest bits about this year's elections is the fact that Nonoy Aquino, the song of national hero Ninoy Aquino, finally went against all his previous denials that he'll run for president. He used the death of his mother, former president Cory Aquino, as the main springboard for his decision to run. He's been a pretty much nothing public official thus far in terms of his careers with no bills passed and a paltry handful of them submitted. I mean seriously, what has this guy been doing all these years?

I expect he's getting a lot of commcercial support since they know he's going to be a pushover as a president. It's going to be ridiculously easy to pressure him into giving his supporters what they want and we're probably going to accomplish even less as a nation that we did during his mother's term as president. Oh joy.

Skynet running the elections - Another major item this year is the fact this is going to be the first time we're automating our elections. The new PCOS machines have been setup and despite many hiccups and insufficient testing for the devices, we're pretty much as ready as we can possibly be given the nature of the politics in this country. I'm glad that we're finally going the automated route despite how bad this particular implementation has been. The point is that we're finally gotten the ball rolling and no matter what complications will come up this year, it at least means that the automation proceedings in the next elections will run even smoother.

We can rant and rave about the voting machines being potentially inaccurate or rigged for a particular candidate, but at least the machines are finally in place and working most of the time. Seriously, do we want to stick to the horrors of manual counting, stolen ballot boxes and all the shenanigans that happen? Plus the stress we put on our public school teachers, who are pretty much conscripted into doing this for us every election year. The manual counting madness needs to end.

Gordon is a Dick - As an Atenean, I am not at all surprised by Dick Gordon's many outbursts in the media whether he's lambasting the survey groups or attacking his fellow candidates. If you've ever seen Gordon at a cheer rally or in an ADMU-DLSU UAAP basketball game, then you'll realize such outbursts are very, and sadly, normal. His instability in that manner is one of the biggest reasons I'm not excited about the remote prospects of him becoming president. Really, do we want to have a leader who is bound to be compared to the likes of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Ugh.

And that brings me to the next item.

If you think surveys drive election results, then you're either an idiot or a sore loser - Survey results are just survey results. They're independent and non-biased data based on a sample of the total population. These are not the entrails of a chicken that one can use to predict the future. They just give you a snapshot of how things are going now and yes they can be used as an indicator of where things stand. They do not influence or drive results - they are the consequence of events and how things are going.

Surveys are a great benchmark or indicator of where things stand now and how the respective campaigns are going. It shows how effective your strategy has been in terms of trying to win the hearts and minds of people. You do not blame an indicator for the results they show - you do something about it to change the way the results are trending!

Voting is not like gambling - Too many handle elections like they handle betting or gambling. You know what I mean - selecting a candidate based on the most likely winner instead of the winner that you think will do the best job of running the country. Too many votes get wasted when the voter decides not to go with their personal #1 in favor of the one they don't hate the most who is more likely to win. Too many elections get swayed and twisted because of that kind of thinking.

Ang Ladlad on the Ballot - And to end on a positive note, I'm amazingly proud that this is the first year that Ang Ladlad, an LGBT party list group has managed to get itself on the ballot. After many legal struggles and challenges, they finally managed to get past the bigots at the COMELEC and succeed with their appeal with the supreme court. There are even talks now about how this makes them the first ever LGBT-focused group on ANY electoral ballot, and that's definitely a good thing for pink rights around the world.

Whether or not they win this year, it will still be an amazing achievement for them to get this far. And now that they've paved the way then all future elections are bound to be blessed with a dash of pink vibrancy. And then we'll have out and proud political figures and maybe even one day an LGBT president. It's only a matter of time...

Beyond all this, democracy continues to thrive in the Philippines. Elections will always be a crazy and colorful time for us and all we can do is hope for the best and see how it all comes out in the in. In the meantime, I'm going to hunker down in my condo unit and watch the talleys start to come in.

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