'Significant improvement' seen in PH polls – US think tank
MANILA, Philippines – Echoing statements from poll watchdogs and the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec), a US-based think tank reported that the Philippine elections of May 9, 2016, have been viewed as better than the country’s previous polls.
“Most electoral stakeholders seemed to feel that the automated elections of 2016 marked a significant improvement over previous Philippine elections,” the Carter Center said in a report published Friday, June 17.
Carter Center, however, noted persistent problems such as vote-buying and election-related violence, particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The group included findings such as the following in its report:
- “The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) saw comparatively limited violence in the run-up to the election but suffered a spike in violence on and around election day.”
- “Although legislation designed to encourage political participation among women and minorities has been enacted, it is not yet fully implemented.”
- “Vote-buying remains a substantial problem, and there are some indications that it is growing. As with election-related violence, it appears to be predominantly linked to local-level competition rather than to national contests. One potentially positive sign is the common perception that verification of vote-buying is considerably more difficult under the automated election system.”
- “Limited observations found indications of a significant level of electoral malfeasance in the conduct of polling in areas in and around the ARMM.”
- “Voting procedures do not fully safeguard the secrecy of the vote.”
New issue hounds Comelec
Days after the May 9 elections, the Comelec itself said it has beaten its own targets in the May 9 polls. “I’d like to think that we outperformed our expectations,” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said.
The election watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, for its part, also lauded the May 9 polls. Namfrel noted the high voter turnout and the increased voter confidence in the automated election system.
A month after the May 9 elections, however, the Comelec finds itself facing a new controversy. This comes after the Comelec extended the deadline for filing of Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs) to June 30, upon the request of the Liberal Party (LP).
The Comelec decision prompted Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim to quit his position as head of the poll body’s Campaign Finance Office.
The SOCE is key in monitoring campaign expenses. Keeping close watch over campaign expenses, on the other hand, can stop politicians from overspending in elections and recovering their expenses through corrupt practices. – Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com