The lull before the storm has descended, the singing and promises are no longer heard on the streets and the traditional messages of shampoo and vitamin enriched food supplements have reclaimed the air waves. It is the day before Election day, the pollies have had to put a sock in it after 3 months of beating their chests to give the 45 million Filipinos registered to vote, the chance to think about their choices.
And choices there are a plenty. A couple of days ago a couple of sample ballot papers landed on the door step, the best beloved and number one son are registered voters. Your humble scribe, being a Kano with only permanent residency status is ineligible, not that I mind all that much, just reading the sample ballot paper and its attached information made my head hurt.
There are 12 senate positions up for grabs for which there are 111 hopefuls and voters must write the names of their chosen ones on the ballot. No tick or number a box, but writing the 12 names. When I think about the scrawl that passes for my handwriting it is for the best that that level of confusion is avoided in the tally room.
Next up is the party list for the Congress. One choice here for a designated spokesperson from a Political Party/Sectoral Organisation/Coalitions Participating in the Party List System to get their bum on an upholstered Congress seat. There are 93 to choose from, ranging from 1-United Transport Koalisyon via the Bago National Cultural Society of the Philippines and The True Marcos Loyalist (For God, Country and People) Association of the Philippines, Inc through to the Youth League for Peace Advancement.
Ok, the left hand column of the ballot paper is done. Next is a vote for your Gongressman/Representative, one choice to be written in here. Which for the Makati City 1st District is a 2 horse race, Oscar (Oca) Ibay and Teodoro (Teddy Boy) Locsin. And, yes the nicknames, in the brackets, are included on the official list of candidates.
Next up for Makati voters is the position of City Mayor. There are 3 candidates, the incumbent Jejomar (Jojo) Binay, businessman Elias (Eli) Dulalia and Senator Manuel (Lito) Lapid. In the Philippines a senator can only serve for 2 consecutive terms (12 years), then they must find themselves another job for a while before they can line up for another decade plus 2 years again. Congressmen, City Mayors and City Councilors can only serve for 3 consecutive terms of 3 years each before they too must find themselves another job.
After choosing the City Mayor, Makati City 1st District electors get to select a City Vice-Mayor which this year, like the Congress Representative, is a 2 horse race. This is followed by writing the names of 10 City Council members from the list of 25 hopefuls.
If you live in a province you also get to choose a Governor, a Vice Governor and 5 Provincial Board Members.
Once all this has been completed the voters thumb print is affixed to their ballot paper and they are free to go with their purple thumb showing they have exercised their democratic mandate. Once it is all done and dusted in about a week’s time with results posted then the accusations of impropriety will flow thick and fast. But for today and tomorrow, Election Day, Filipinos can enjoy a sober time of reflection and exercising their franchise, literally, as the selling, offering, buying, serving and taking of intoxicating liquor is banned under the election rules.