The 2016 Elections wrap-up
Less than 10 days from now, Filipinos will be giving their one good vote to elect a new President who will be in-charge of their affairs for the next six years, and who might very well change their lives for good.
The past few months have been brutal. Campaign season was the usual dirty, noisy, and expensive shenanigan that it’s always been. Candidates spent billions to further their campaign, voters took sides and netizens flooded (and squabbled on) social media.
Here’s a quick look at one of the most heated and talked about election seasons in the Philippines—and around the world.
Despite being the last person to file his certificate of candidacy, and the recent backlash due to a few not-so-well-chosen words, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is now in the lead according to several election surveys conducted by various organizations and independent agencies.
In the ABS-CBN-commissioned Pulse Asia survey released on April 24, Duterte got 34 percent of the 4,000 respondents, widening his lead over Senator Grace Poe, who’s in second place with 22 percent.
Incumbent Vice President Jejomar Binay is at third place with 19 percent, while current administration Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas is at a close fourth place with 18 percent.
Duterte’s rise in the surveys—despite his “gutter language” and recent insensitive comments on women and persons with disabilities—stems from people’s “frustration and despair,” according to Institute for Political and Electoral Reform’s Executive Director Ramon Casiple.
“The top three issues are one, poverty and jobs; two, peace and crime, especially drugs; and three, corruption and government services. Duterte appeals to the frustration and despair of ordinary people on government actions regarding their lives. He promises quick action,” Ralph Jennings of Forbes.com quoted Casiple.
In the recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Duterte is also leading with 33 percent, a six-point jump from the previous month, earning him a comfortable nine-point lead against Poe.
“Mayor Duterte has been steadily gaining ground. It’s a clear lead. The joke could have affected him in such a way that his score could have even been higher had it not been for that news,” SWS spokesman Leo Laroza told Agence France-Presse.
‘A song of nice and fire’
Apart from the historical election in 1986, this year’s national poll is certainly the most talked about in history, not just in the Philippines but even abroad. Why? Because of “The Punisher,” Rodrigo Duterte.
Raul Dancel of The Strait Times writes, “[Duterte] is vulgar and uncouth…He has insulted Pope Francis, describes himself unapologetically as a ‘womanizer’ and advocates vigilante killings of suspected criminals. But none of this seems to matter.”
“It is the image he has been cultivating since he was a street-smart thug in his teens, as well as the widespread discontent among the poor and the lower middle class, that is insulating Mr. Duterte, analysts say…For his millions of supporters, Mr. Duterte fits the bill.”
While Duterte’s tough guy persona appeals to many Filipinos who are desperate for change, Poe’s pure and motherly image seems to work just as well—a dramatic contrast between the country’s voting populace.
The last two weeks before election proves to be the dirtiest of times—with camps digging for the blackest of mud to throw against the most threatening opponent. True enough, Binay, Roxas, and Duterte made headlines because of their word wars—spanning from questionable platforms to mandatory psychological tests.
Despite the surplus of black propaganda this season, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago—who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014—revealed she is “back to normal” and ready for action, stating that she will not quit or withdraw her candidacy.
“I have been the subject of much black propaganda concerning my health,” Santiago said in the third and last Presidential debate on April 24. “I have never been false to the Filipino people. I have announced the state of my health. I announced having cancer. I am better now, I am telling you now…I am back to normal because I’m on a secret pill which is not yet available in the market.”
If you’ve read the Wellness Issue of Expat Travel & Lifestyle Magazine, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chief Andres Bautista agreed that the 2016 elections is one of the most important Presidential elections in recent history.
However, despite the election’s obvious importance, a 23-year-old Information Technology (IT) student was allegedly able to hack into the COMELEC website, leading to the biggest leakage of data in Philippine history.
On April 20, the fresh-from-college suspect was arrested. He is now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation. According to reports, the suspect also has two accomplices who are still at large. Several reports say the suspect hacked into the COMELEC website out of boredom, wanting to show the vulnerabilities of the website in terms cyber security.
Coincidentally, the website containing the database of stolen information (conveniently designed as a search engine to find sensitive information of over 55 million registered voters in the Philippines) was also made public the same day the suspect was arrested.
Bautista said he is ready to face the consequences of the massive leak that may be brought against him or his office.
In an interview on radio station DZBB, Bautista said, “We are prepared for any case that may be brought against us. Personally, I am not clinging tightly to my position [as commissioner]. Our job here is difficult and we are doing our best to have credible elections on May 9,” adding that the website—including the security systems—were already in place before he was named COMELEC Chairman.
Dispelling the fears of an election failure come May 9, COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon assured the public that the hacking will not affect the upcoming elections, saying, “The computers and security programs that would be used in the automated election system are very sophisticated.”
By CHING DEE