Daily Archives: May 15, 2010
The Philippines held a general election on May 10, 2010. The President, who is elected to a six-year term, was up for election as were 12 out of 24 Senate seats, all 286 seats in the House of Representatives and a number of major provincial and municipal governors or mayors. The President of the Philippines, who has power close to the US President, is elected for one six-year term (the constitution’s wording of one six-year term has been wishy-washy, allowing the incumbent President to serve 9 years – 2001 to 2010, since she took over from an impeached President in 2001 and was only really elected once) by popular vote, in which the candidate with most votes wins, no runoffs. Similar to Brazil’s 1945-1964 system or certain systems for US Lt. Governors, the presidential candidates have running mates of their own but the Vice President is elected a separate vote (so there is no requirement to vote for the running-mate of your presidential vote). The Senate, which has 24 members elected for six-year terms, is renewed by halves every three years. The system is rather simple: the country is a multi-member FPTP constituency and the top twelve vote-winners win. The House has 229 single-member FPTP constituencies and 57 proportional seats allocated by party-list with a minimum 2% threshold for seats.
The Philippines won full independence from the United States in 1946. Between 1946 and 1969, the Philippines had a rather organized two-party system organized between the Nacionalista Party, founded in 1907 to push for the country’s independence and traditionally aligned on the right; and the Liberals, a left-wing splitoff of the Nacionalistas founded in 1945. These two parties both represented various factions of the omnipotent landowners and their political clans and machines. The election of Ferdinand Marcos, a Nacionalista, defeating incumbent Liberal President Diosdado Macapagal in 1965 completely changed the balance of power. Marcos, in power until the People’s Power Revolution of 1986, took absolute control of the country in 1972 with the declaration of martial law and forced all major parties to merge into his new outfit, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). Marcos, who claims credit for starting a basic agrarian reform hindered by massive central government corruption and certain reforms in the country, took control of the country at the expense of the traditional oligarchic families, alienating them and driving them into an unholy alliance with democrats and the Catholic Church, a movement which culminated in the 1986 People’s Power Revolution (in which the army’s switch of allegiance played a key role) and in the rise to power of Corazon Aquino, a democratic reformer. Aquino served as President until she was democratically succeeded by Fidel Ramos. While she was an honest President, Aquino was unable to do away with the massive entrenched corruption, graft of Filipino politics and the poverty and underdevelopment it caused throughout the country. In 1998, popular former actor and Vice President Joseph Estrada was elected President, but massive corruption led to mass protests and his ousting in 2001, when Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Arroyo, who was controversially re-elected in 2004, has been attacked for corruption and her penchant for controversial constitutional reforms. Arroyo’s popularity has been negative since 2007 or so.
The major candidates in the race for President were Senator Benigno Aquino III (Liberal), Corazon’s son; former President Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) party; Nacionalista Senator Manuel Villar, Jr.; Gilberto Teodoro of Arroyo’s party, the Lakas Kampi CMD; evangelical leader Eddie Villanueva, Senator Richard Gordon and three other minor candidates. Aquino, who benefited from an outpour of sympathy following his mother’s death last year, campaigned on an anti-corruption and staunchly anti-Arroyo platform. His running mate was Mar Roxas and Estrada’s running-mate was Jejomar Binay. Here are the results for President and Vice President, based on the official COMELEC tallies found on Wikipedia and other places online:
Benigno Aquino III (Liberal) 40.19%
Joseph Estrada (PMP) 25.46%
Manuel Villar, Jr. (Nacionalista) 14.22%
Gilberto Teodoro (Lakas Kampi CMD) 10.65%
Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas) 3.01%
Richard Gordon (Bagumbayan-VNP) 1.41%
Nicanor Perlas (Independent) 0.13%
Jamby Madrigal (Independent) 0.12%
John Carlos de los Reyes (Ang Kapatiran) 0.11%
Jejomar Binay (PDP-Laban) 42.51%
Mar Roxas (Liberal) 36.84%
Loren Legarda (NPC) 10.71%
Bayani Fernando (Bagumbayan-VNP) 2.78%
Edu Manzano (Lakas Kampi CMD) 1.95%
Perfecto Yasay (Bangon Pilipinas) 0.97%
Jay Sonza (KBL) 0.16%
Dominador Chipeco, Jr. (Ang Kapatiran) 0.13%
Aquino faces major challenges, the same which his mother faced. Corruption, cronyism and graft is an established aspect of the Filipino political life, and party lines reflect that reality. Efforts to prosecute Arroyo will run into a strong opposition bloc in the legislature. The country still needs major reforms in both political power structure and land structure, but despite his apparent good-will, Aquino will face opposition from the established interests. However, he may choose to take the way of almost all Filipino Presidents and align with the established interests and feed them money and influence.
The Senate results reflect the continued dominance of parochial, oligarchic or personality politics in the Philippines. Bong Revilla, the first-placed candidate for the Senate, with 16 million or so votes, is a former actor. The runner up is Estrada’s son, Jinggoy Estrada. In seventh place, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. wins a spot in the Senate. I don’t know the makeup of Senate by party, but in the Philippines, people matter far more than parties (most of which are either patronage machines or personal outfits for actors and the like) and these people usually align with wherever the money is (eg; the President) and whoever best protects their parish’s interests.
The House results also reflect the same old power structure, and they also show that Aquino will face a strong opposition in the House – which explains his willingness to reach across party lines to govern. Here are the headline results, by coalition, for district seats (I can’t seem to find list seats):
Lakas Kampi CMD 36.71% winning 93 seats (-46)
Nacionalista-NPC 26.29% winning 47 seats (+3)
Liberal 23.43% winning 35 seats (+13)
PMP 2.46% winning 6 seats (+1)
Independent 6.9% winning 5 seats (+1)
PDP-Laban 1.22% winning 2 seats (-3)
Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino 0.96% winning 2 seats (-1)
Lakas Kampi CMD, which is Arroyo’s party and the traditionally dominant legislative party, maintains a large plurality in the House due to its machines’ dominance in generally rural areas throughout the country. Arroyo herself has assured that she would remain in the frontlines of power by seeking a House seat, her son’s old seat in Pampanga’s 2nd district. She won her seat with 84% of the vote, and her party is aiming to make her Speaker of the House. Imelda Marcos, who had already been in the House between 1995 and 1998, ran for her son’s seat in Illocos Norte (the family’s stronghold) and won 80% of the vote as a Nacionalista candidate.