News reports from Manila indicate that the May 13 elections were generally peaceful, orderly and credible. There were reports of violence and the usual delays in the balloting, but these were isolated and have not adversely affected the credibility of the elections.
In the not-too-distant past, post-election headlines were about ballot snatching, election cheating, ambuscades and ugly quarrels between rival candidates.
But this kind of depressing news was notably lessened in the days after the May 13 elections. As a result, the perception was that the balloting was largely peaceful and orderly.
One reason for this was the computerization of the electoral process. Although there were some complaints about defective PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines, neutral observers were one in saying that the elections all over the country went on smoothly.
Even in the so-called “hot spots,” the elections were generally orderly. Let’s take Abra as an example. In years past, unabated violence marred the balloting in that remote province. But the conduct and results of the May 13 elections gave the impression that Abra has changed for the better. This was evident in a report submitted by Filipino Star News correspondent Jack Turqueza.
There were also less reports of election violence in Maguindanao, a hotbed of bloody political rivalries that used to pit the Ampatuan clan against its many foes.
That the results of the balloting were credible was shown further by the number of votes garnered by the top six winning senatorial candidates. Pre-election surveys did not give Grace Poe, the No. 1 senator-elect, even a Chinaman’s chance of landing at the top spot. Yet, the final tallies showed she was the overwhelming choice of the people for senator.
Perhaps, Grace Poe might have topped the senatorial race because the people have not forgotten the injustice done to her father, the late Fernando Poe, Jr. Her victory means that the results of the senatorial election reflected the true sentiments of the people.
What is the significance of the high credibility of the elections?
It signifies many good things. For one, it signifies the political maturity of the Filipinos. It also signifies that the Philippine electoral processes are working. Likewise, it signifies that the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Elections have done a comparatively good job.
Soon, the Philippines will benefit economically from these positive changes. A few days after the elections, stock market analysts were predicting another bull run in the bourses.
This means renewed confidence by the international community in the Philippines. This translates to brighter economic prospects for the country with more foreign investments expected to pour in.
With these changes, it is not farfetched to dream that our home country will soon be enjoying unprecedented progress.