The 2007 Congressional
Elections in the Philippines:
An Initial Assessment
Presentation at the National Endowment for Democracy
May 24, 2007
By Chito Gascon
Executive Director – LIBERTAS
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
Discussion Outline
CONTEXT
Historical & strategic
Current conjuncture
Nature of Philippine elections
CONFIGURATION / CONDUCT
Balance of political forces
Issues raised
Outcomes, trends, and flashpoints
CHALLENGES / CONSIDERATIONS
General observations and conclusions
Scenarios and directions
Policy recommendations
Catholic Bishops’ Statement (CBCP)
January 2007
“ These coming elections in May 2007 are especially
important. Many of our current political
problems, which have hindered fuller economic
development and social justice, especially for
the poor, can be traced to unresolved questions
concerning the conduct of past elections. As a
nation, we cannot afford yet another controversial
exercise that further aggravates social distrust and
hopelessness.”
Basic Political Facts
85M people in 7K islands in South-east Asia (10
major languages)
350 years of Spanish rule
American rule during the 1st Half of the 20th century
Prior to & immediately after WW2 a republican
system was put in place patterned after the USA
Widespread poverty, inequality, and injustice
Internal armed conflicts
Authoritarian rule (1972-1986)
1986: Transition to democracy
One of the few democracies in the region
The Downturn
1997: Asian Financial Crisis
First Major Push for Charter-Change (CHACHA)
Top-down
Perceived as an effort for perpetuation of power
1998 Presidential Elections
Rise of a populist candidate
Resurgence of Marcos-style politics and persons
Bad governance, scandals, corruption
2001: ’PEOPLEPOWER’ Revolt (EDSA2)
Reform-oriented BUT elite-driven
The Post-EDSA2 Scenario
(2001-2004)
EDSA2
Elite-driven, urban-based middle class support
Promise for reforms (rhetoric rather than reality)
The Rupture of the Constitution
Truncated impeachment process
Re-politicization of the security forces
The role of the judicial system
Deep Political Cleavages
Mass Riots – EDSA3
Oakwood Mutiny / EDSA 20 Mutiny
Resurgence of rebel activity
The 2004 Elections & Their Aftermath:
Watershed Year that led to the Backwater
Notwithstanding the political divide, the 2004
national elections were seen as a critical step
to ultimately resolving the impasse
The crisis of LEGITIMACY from 2001 was
aggravated by revelations of widespread
electoral fraud from the 2004 elections, which
only partially came to light in 2005, in the
wake of the Hello Garci Scandal
Current Political Impasse
Chronic Political Crisis
Moves to remove Arroyo (legal &
illegal)
Counter-moves to consolidate power
Transactional politics & patronage
CHACHA Redux
Attempt to cancel elections
Polarization
Intimidation of the media
Human rights violations
Crackdown on the opposition
Stakes of the May 14 Mid-Term Elections
Upper Chamber – The Senate
HALF of 24 members
Elected at a national level
Dominated by opposition parties with only 4 seats from the
administration remaining in the Chamber
Lower Chamber – House of Representatives
ALL seats (MIXED SYSTEM: 80% SMD + 20%MPL)
13th Congress – 236 / 14th Congress – 265
Dominated by administration parties; only 32 seats currently
held by opposition parties
ALL Local Government Positions
The Process
45 million voters
224,748 precincts (around 200 voters each)
Voter fills out a blank ballot with possibly up
to 33 names to write manually
Counted manually at the precinct, recorded
in an election return, tabulated at the
municipality/city in a certificate of canvass,
then further tabulated at the province, then
another tabulation at the COMELEC
Number of Registered and Actual Voters (in millions), 1992- 2007
Election
Registered
Voting
Percent
May 2007/ projected
45.060
33.795
75.0
May 2004*
43.536
35.414
81.4
May 2001
36.148
27.574
76.3
May 1998*
34.117
29.474
86.4
May 1995
36.415
25.736
70.7
May 1992*
32.141
24.255
75.5
* Presidential, Congressional, AND Local Elections
Source: 2005 National Statistical Coordination Board Statistical Yearbook.
The Philippine Elections as 3 Markets
Distinct but interrelated markets:
• National market for senators
• Local markets for congressmen with
national consequences
• Purely local markets for governor,
mayor, and local council members
Key Stakeholders
The Party Groups
ADMINISTRATION - TEAM Unity (5 Parties)
OPPOSITION – The GO (5 Parties)
INDEPENDENTS
• Re-electionists / Returnables / Stars
• AKP
• ‘KBL’
The Administrative Agencies
COMELEC
Deputized agencies
The Non-Partisan Citizens’ Monitoring Efforts
Churches
Schools & universities
Business & professionals
Civil society
Media
The Framing Issues
The Lingering Question of Legitimacy
Truth about 2004 results
CHACHA 3
The Economy
Moving on
Social payback
Social Issues
Poverty and hunger
Access to education, health & housing
Corruption / Public Accountability
Political Finance
Extra-Judicial Killings & Disappearances
The Politicization of Security Forces
The Party-list System
Political Dynasties
‘Moral Politics’
Trends, Flashpoints, and Outcomes
No substantial improvement in the administration of
the election
Problems with voter’s lists (reports of padding / other
irregularities)
Widespread Incidences of fraud (retail/wholesale)
Weakness in enforcing election laws (campaign
finance/others)
Rejection of some political dynasties & consolidation
of others
Election-related violence
Politicization of security forces
Proxy wars and iconic battles
Emergence of a new generation of national leaders
Trends, Flashpoints, and Outcomes
(continued)
The senate vote as barometer of public sentiment
Exit polls & counts show unequivocal opposition victory
YET, results remain in doubt because of vote manipulation
[8-2]-2 /[ 8-1]-3 / [7-2]-3 / [7-1]-4 / [6-2]-4
UNLESS ‘Magic’ happens
Paradox: virtual hegemony of the ruling coalition at the
local level YET the failure to deliver votes in the senate
80% win for the ruling parties in the House (at least 70
districts uncontested)
The so-called COMMAND vote (a myth except in the ARMM)
Some cracks in the façade of unity (LAKAS vs KAMPI)
Marginal gains for opposition forces in the House
Some Post-Election Scenarios
Unfolding Electoral Scenarios:
MASSIVE CHEATING
MODERATE CHEATING
TOLERABLE CHEATING
Post-Election Governance Scenarios
Legitimacy issue may linger BUT possible resolution would
be through a utilitarian strategy (neither through
democratic or revolutionary means)
Crossroads: 1) gridlock or 2) workable compromise on
some issues
For things to move forward, the government must accept
the results
The Search for Common Ground
Building Foundations for the Next Government
Critical to sustain economic growth and reduce public
desperation
Initiate credible political, electoral, and administrative
reforms to reduce imperfections in the political process and
ensure credible elections in 2010 that help return stability
Alternative Attitudes to the Result:
Best outcome
• Administration focuses on reforms rather than survival
• Administration agrees to compromise for the common good
Worst outcome
• Administration views its partial win as endorsement of its policies
• The rebuke of administration intensifies the political hostilities
Considerations / Initial Steps
Complete full automation of elections ahead of 2010
Further reduce opportunities for human intervention /
human error in the counting & tabulation process
Separate election adjudication & election disputes resolution
from elections management functions
Improve the capacity of the COMELEC
Enforce election laws fully (particularly on campaign
contribution & expenditure) coupled with a vigorous anticorruption effort
Support civic-ed /voters ed / citizen’s oversight
Initiate law reform legislation (party law / political finance)
Rationalize the mobilization of election officers to include
citizen volunteers
Create civilian oversight & control over security forces
Possible Options & Recommendations
In order to renew civic engagement in defense of democracy:
 Some key principles to this political engagement
 Consider programs and activities at laying foundations for the restoration
of a consensus for democracy in the run-up to the 2010 General Elections
through among others:
 Restoring full credibility to the electoral process
 Cleaning-up the institutions and systems for election administration
 Political party development, strengthening, and consolidation
 Alternative candidates emerge with distinct visions of governance
 Preventing a blow-out of the economic situation in the interim period
 Spreading the benefits of economic growth
 Pursuing reform agenda in social expenditure (education,
infrastructure)
 Reducing drivers of political polarization such as violence and exclusion
Latest Results
Point estimates of senatorial preferences from exit poll, and projected actual votes and difference
from threshold (in millions)
Projected
Difference from
Candidate
Coalition
Percent
votes
Legarda
GO
58.5
19.770
8.178
18.856
20.684
Escudero
GO
53.3
18.013
6.421
17.014
19.012
Villar
GO
49.8
16.830
5.238
15.842
17.818
Lacson
GO
46.4
15.681
4.089
14.705
16.657
Pangilinan
Ind
44.6
15.073
3.481
14.103
16.042
Aquino
GO
42.6
14.397
2.805
13.434
15.359
Angara
TU
41.1
13.890
2.298
12.932
14.847
Arroyo
TU
36.8
12.437
0.845
11.495
13.378
Trillanes
GO
35.4
11.963
0.372
11.028
12.899
Zubiri
TU
34.9
11.794
0.203
10.861
12.728
Honasan
Ind
34.6
11.693
0.101
10.761
12.626
Recto
TU
34.3
11.592
0.000
10.660
12.523
Cayetano
GO
31.0
10.476
-1.115
9.559
11.394
Pichay
TU
30.4
10.274
-1.318
9.359
11.189
Pimentel
GO
28.5
9.632
-1.960
8.725
10.538
Roco
GO
28.4
9.598
-2.839
8.691
10.504
Defensor
TU
28.2
9.530
-2.061
8.625
10.436
Sotto
TU
26.2
8.854
-2.737
7.958
9.751
Note: Sample population is 10,620 actual voters from 79 provinces.
Source of basic data: May 14 Pulse Asia exit polls, www.abs-cbnnews.com
threshold
Minimum
Maximum
Point estimates and projected votes (in millions) with adding preferences for ‘Cayetano’
Percent
Projected votes
Additional votes
Difference
from
threshold
Candidate
Coalition
Legarda
GO
58.5
19.770
8.077
Escudero
GO
53.3
18.013
6.320
Villar
GO
49.8
16.830
5.137
Lacson
GO
46.4
15.681
3.988
Pangilinan
Ind
44.6
15.073
3.380
Aquino
GO
42.6
14.397
2.704
Angara
TU
41.1
13.890
2.197
Cayetano
GO
38.0
12.842
Arroyo
TU
36.8
12.437
0.743
Trillanes
GO
35.4
11.963
0.270
Zubiri
TU
34.9
11.794
0.101
Honasan
Ind
34.6
11.693
0.000
Recto
TU
34.3
11.592
-0.101
Pichay
TU
30.4
10.274
-1.419
Pimentel
GO
28.5
9.632
-2.061
Roco
GO
28.4
9.598
-2.095
Defensor
TU
28.2
9.530
-2.163
Sotto
TU
26.2
8.854
-2.839
+ 2.366
1.149
A Call to Political Engagement
A Need to Foster Trust in Democratic Process
Elections and election administration
Democratic institutions (parties and parliaments)
Democratic processes (oversight and rule of law)
A need to renew and reinvigorate civic
engagement in politics (partisan and non-partisan)
Defend, deepen, and widen the political space for
effective participation
Develop and support democratic leaders
Nurture and strengthen constituencies as well as
energize communities for sustained advocacy of
political and social reform
Strengthening Political Parties
Develop parties based on principles, not persons
Legal framework that provides incentives and disincentives
Ensure transparency, accountability, and internal
organizational democracy
These reforms will:
Attract sustained support from broad constituencies
Secure adequate funding
Develop capable mechanisms and machinery for public
policy
Build a cadre of credible leaders, candidates, professionals,
and networks
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