Rants and Raves: The 2007 Polls

The second-most important part of the elections began at 3:00 pm when voting precincts closed and counting started.

Tallying of votes started in earnest and the overexcited media coverages swiftly flashed their partial and unofficial counts.

As of the moment, municipal and city-level canvassing have started in some areas.

What to watch out for? “Retail” cheating at the precinct level, and “dagdag-bawas” at the municipal, city and provincial levels. We hope citizens’ watchdogs like the PPCRV, Kontra-Daya, Halalang Marangal and other will be able to do their work without hitches, and expose pronto all the irregularities and scams they discover.

One cheated vote is one vote too many.

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One common thing about ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2007 and GMA’s Eleksyon 2007 is the low regard for the partylist elections in their coverage.

While the partylist elections are also nationwide, just like the senatorial derby, there’s no effort on the part of both networks’ to report on the turnout and votes of partylist aspirants.

Media disinterest on the partylist elections is partly the reason for the public’s low level of awareness and low turnout in this part of the national elections.

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Coverage anchors of both Channel 2 and Channel 7, and their guest panelists have lamented the low level of public discourse from Team Unity and the Genuine Opposition. They’ve repeatedly expressed frustration at the kind of unprincipled politics dominating the senatorial elections.

The 1987 Constitution‘s provision of a partylist system is a safety valve for this dearth in substantial debate from the dominant, elitist parties.

But the partylist system was not given ample attention and continues to be largely ignored by the media.

This is inspite of the barefaced efforts of the Arroyo administration to subvert the partylist elections in a narrow-minded and arguably unconstitutional effort to obtain seats for government-organized parties led by former assistant secretaries of Malacañang.

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ABS-CBN’s Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo project is a good start for efforts to encourage Filipinos to practice “citizen journalism”.

As a TXTPower convenor, I view the project as a positive development in democratizing media access.

However, I must remind ABS-CBN that it has a responsibility to follow through the complaints received from the project after airing them. I mean, something must be done by the authorities, something must happen about the reports and complaints. The public must be convinced that not only is it easy to report election fraud and other irregularities. More importantly, ABS-CBN must show the nation that the Commission on Elections will seriously consider the citizen complaints.

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Kudos to GMA’s Philippine Agenda and Isang Tanong special programs for their attempts to raise the level of public discussion of what should be the more important election issues.

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Activists have long viewed the elections in a rather bad light, and the impressions are reinforced by the 2007 electoral campaign and polls that ended today.

No serious policy debates were held. No differing party or coalition programs were presented to the electorate. Come to think of it, this is due to the fact that both the TU and GO are actually two factions of the same political elite that has ruled the nation for decades.

Not content with assaulting the electorate with below sea-level trapo discourse, the elitist parties, coalitions and candidates spent more than a billion pesos in an advertising war never before seen in the Philippines.

Nationwide, the number of casualties of election-related violence has reached 114.

The partylist system — for some, the last hope; for others, a provision for token representation for the democratic majority — is under serious attack. Genuine partylists are being harassed out of the political mainstream, while the insecure administration bankrolls its own partylists.

Voters from known opposition bailiwicks in Metro Manila experienced great difficulties casting votes. Residents from one whole barangay in Tondo reportedly disappeared from the voters’ lists.

Many types of vote-buying were reported endlessly the whole day from across the country.

In Mindanao, 14 towns in Lanao did not have elections. The number of potential votes there are enough to determine who will win the last seats in the Senate race and the winning partylist groups as well.

Elections are the way to change Philippine society? Get real!

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(Photo from Yahoo! News taken by Cheryl Ravelo of Reuters. Videos from YouTube.)

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