Collective Voting in 2016
No Religious Vote
LAST MAY 1, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a “pastoral appeal” which said, “The Catholic Church has never asked any political candidate to seek its endorsement, but the Catholic Church has always demanded of Catholic voters that they cast their votes as an act not only of citizenship but also as a public declaration of faith. We ask this most earnestly of all of you, Catholic brothers and sisters, in the forthcoming election.”
But Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the CBCP, also warned the Catholic faithful about voting a candidate who takes positions “that are not only politically precarious but worse, morally reprehensible.” Villegas also said that whoever wins the elections in an honest way and strives to heal the wounds that have divided the nation has the support of their congregation.
The TV5-SWS Exit Survey showed that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte was least supported by Catholics. In his article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Social Weather Stations (SWS) President Mahar Mangahas said, “Duterte led Roxas by 16 points among all voters, but by a below-average 10 points among Catholics. He led massively by 53 points among Muslims, by 70 points among Iglesia ni Cristo, and by 24 points among other Christians.”
No Women’s Vote…Yet
Twenty eight million registered female voters outnumbered the male voting population by 1.7 million in 2016.
But the political scene remains dominated by males. Three women went for the top two positions, presidential candidates Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor Santiago and Leni Robredo for vice president. Only eight women ran for a senatorial seat and only two made it to top 12 based on the partial and unofficial tally of votes.
In a 2015 statement marking the 78th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the Philippines, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said, “While women’s suffrage is essential to a nation’s democracy, this cannot guarantee that women’s issues and concerns can be fully addressed, especially when men continue to outnumber women in leadership positions. There cannot be true democracy if almost half of the population is excluded from holding positions of power.”
There is no limit to the extent of involvement of women in government. While more woman officials are encouraged, the laws that concern women’s issues lack teeth. The Reproductive Health Law in 2012 and the subsequent reduction of its budget in 2016 only prove that women’s issues can be so easily relegated to the sidelines. While advocates have mobilized on gender issues, there is still no clear women’s vote in the Philippines.
No Youth Vote
Presidential candidate, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago considered the youth vote central to her victory. She has claimed that she is the most preferred candidate in mock polls of universities, particularly in the University of the Philippines (UP) system. These youth dominated polls left her in the bottom spot of commissioned surveys as well as in the actual vote count.
TV5-SWS exit poll showed that Duterte scored a 33-point lead over Mar Roxas in ages 18 to 24, and a 26-point lead in ages 25 to 34.
Considering that the youth is composed of individuals aged 18-34, the so-called “millenial vote” goes beyond those in tertiary education. The young professionals who have already graduated from the universities should also be considered.
Candidates would do well not to depend on a so-called youth vote.