Fair Election Is Needed

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The electoral system provides for an institutional background for realizing the  objectives of peace, security and development.  It shapes elite recruitment and socialization as much as it structures public choice. Since the end of the dictatorship in 1986, the Philippines was considered a democracy. EDSA I and EDSA II have proved that the people have a profound democratic reaction when the law is not respected by the power itself. But this democratic qualification has to be confirmed by a fair and lawful on going electoral process, a basic and necessary column of a democratic regime. To have fair and just elections, next May 13th, seems an easy job: you just ask everybody to respect the rules of the campaign, to make the right counting of the ballot and to publish the results. A proper system of voting and a good counting system should suffice for the necessary controls. The COMELEC has been instituted for that. The description of its role and power is available on the Internet. But this project seems more difficult that one can think of, because many factors enter into a fair election process. Basic conditions have to exist. Let’s talk about two essential ones: the first condition of a fair election consists in keeping violence and other forms of constraint out of the election process, so that physical freedom is guaranteed. Then we should first and definitely discard violence, intimidation of competition, manipulation of the votes, all illegal actions using force or arms. Past elections have proved that this first step is not always realized. In 2009, 58 people in a motorcade in Mindanao were killed by a hundred gunmen. Due to this extreme violence, numerous deaths occur every time. Temptation is strong to intimidate or even destroy a rival candidate, or to use violence in the voting booth. This is not acceptable for a democracy where the fundamental human right of a candidate allow him to express himself and for the voters to make the choice they want freely. This peaceful process needs not only a nationwide ban on carrying arms as it has been decided by the COMELEC, but a real integration of the respect of the law by all citizens. So, it depends a lot on the state of mind of everyone and especially of the candidates. It depends on one’s capacity to put the law above all personal interests, as said by de Tocqueville, and to personally refuse violence. It also depends on the state’s capacity to enforce the law through all necessary measures and to punish those who have not respected it. This has to be done, with determination, at all levels, national and local, so that no act of violence would be able to remain unnoticed and unpunished. The second condition concerns the control of the finances invested in the candidacy and all the means to attract voters. It all goes under the “Campaign Finance laws”. It is a very difficult and sensitive subject which every democracy manages to face one way or another. COMELEC chairman, Sixto S. Brillantes, announced that for the first time in 2013 the Commission will be looking into campaign finances. If the question is so important, it is because rich and powerful individuals or families can capture invade public places with their presence, organize huge caravans throughout the country, publish multiple advertisements on television and so on. By so doing, they put pressure on the electors which have no means of making a fair judgement because of the inequality of presence of the candidates. It is essential to be able to control the amount of money received and spent for the campaign. All the democratic countries have their own system of control because it is so important in relation to money power. A very strict control is operated on private spending so that transparency allows the COMELEC to keep track of all money movements. Candidates should know that their income and expenses for the campaign will be strictly scrutinized. In this chapter we should mention the buying of votes, and...
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