2010 Elections: Same old, same old, but not quite

Written on February 23, 2010 – 1:29 am | by mediaandelections |

As in the 2004 and 2007 elections, corruption, governance, and human rights issues should be among the lead issues in the 2010 elections. But some things make this year’s polls different from the previous elections.

2010 will be the first ever automated ballot nationwide. But serious controversies have hounded the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic International Corporation, a company associated with the 2004 election controversy in Venezuela, regarding their capacity to hold an automated electon nationwide and restore integrity to the electoral process.

The candidacy of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the only son of the late former President Corazon Aquino and Marcos opposition leader Benigno

“Ninoy” Aquino Jr., has also reignited interest among a weary electorate. Aquino, whose political viability as presidential contender dramatically rose after the death of his mother a few months before the elections, is regarded

by many civil society groups as a the last hope for reform in trapo-dominated Philippine politics and the resulting corruption and inefficiency in governance.

This year’s elections have also seen the rise of initiatives by civil society organizations, news media outlets, and bloggers and citizen journalism sites

to monitor the campaign and to do whatever they can to assure fair and honest elections.

The elections will be held not only on the heels of a continuing debate on the

shift to a parliamentary form of government but also amid fears that the incumbent president will extend her hold on power. Among the worst case scenarios that have been mentioned are a declaration of martial law and a deliberate failure of elections. She’s also running for Congress, which many see as a prelude to her either becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, or prime minister once her allies succeed in amending the

Constitution.

Both the national and local elections emphasize the divisions among the

various political factions as well as among the electorate. This early the campaign is already being waged at a level of hostility that may very well be unprecedented. The divisions make political violence, harassment and assassinations almost certain.

The legacy of violence

Elections in this country are usually marred by violence. But the Ampatuan Massacre, in which 57 individuals including 32 journalists and media practitioners were abducted and brutally killed in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, is unprecedented even in the country’s already dismal record of election-related violence, attacks on press freedom, and impunity. What’s worse is that it highlights the weakness of the rule of law that supposedly governs Philippine democracy. The Ampatuan massacre, the continuing killing of journalists and the shocking numbers of disappearances and extra-judicial killings of activists are likely to be only the prelude to higher levels of violence in 2010, whether in the campaign and elections, or their aftermath.

Corruption issues also dominate electoral concerns. Money politics will continue to hound the electorate in making their choice, and this will be especially crucial at the local levels where, experience during the 2004 and 2007 elections reveal, electoral fraud is most easily perpetrated. But the threat of money politics also operates at another level. As in 2004 and 2007, there has not been any demonstrated capacity to enforce the law governing campaign finances.

CMFR Monitor of the News Media Coverage of 2013 Elections

Given the special nature of the 2013 campaign and elections, the media’s role as credible and critical sources of information and analysis during the election season bears watching. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) is monitoring the news media coverage of the 2013 campaign and elections in the context of both the special circumstances in which they were taking place, and the opportunity for improved and meaningful reporting and analysis the exercise offered to the Philippine media. 

CMFR has been monitoring media coverage of Philippine elections since 1992, and in every instance has made recommendations towards the improvement of media coverage. These efforts have not been unrewarded. Changes in media coverage incorporating some of the recommendations of the CMFR monitor in 2004 were evident, for example, in the media coverage of the 2007 elections.


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