Democracy in the Philippines

Topics: Elections, Voting, Democracy Pages: 1 (314 words) Published: August 15, 2011
The 2010 campaign has drawn to a close, and it’s time to distill my experiences after registering hundreds of miles by land, sea, and air crisscrossing the country as a party-list candidate. On the purely physical side, my shaking thousands of hands—I estimated some 3,500 in one two-hour period in the public market in Angeles, Pampanga—has apparently given my right arm a life of its own, like that of Dr. Strangelove or one of Jim Carrey’s characters. It twitches uncontrollably when not in action, as if waiting impatiently to be fed. There is no doubt in my mind that Philippine democracy is alive. Everywhere I went, there was intense interest in the candidates, particularly the presidential candidates, with many pausing from their labors to inquire which presidential nominee I favored and whatprogram my party Akbayan had to offer. Everywhere the courtship of the voter was intense. Gone are the days when the “command vote” for a candidate could be considered sufficient to deliver victory. Except in the remotest places, the “market vote” has increased in both size and decisiveness. The market vote is no statistical abstraction for candidates: In almost every municipality and city, it has become de rigueur for candidates to present and sell themselves in the public market, trying to shake every hand within reach, even the wet hands of fish and meat vendors embarrassed to extend them. Most of the time, the cynics say, the people are at the mercy of the politicians. Maybe, but for at least three months every three years, the politicians are at the mercy of the voters. Philippine democracy is alive, but is it well?

It is difficult to answer in the affirmative. The reason for this goes beyond the fact that come election day, scores will have been gunned down and huge sums will have been passed...
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