Reflections on Philippine elections


By Alin Ferrer-Garganera,
Public service media practitioner
Radio anchor/ broadcaster

MANILA: We just concluded the national elections in the Philippines on May 9, 2022, and the results are in. To say it was shocking to many would be an understatement.

Twelve new senators have been proclaimed. Almost 90% of the House of Representatives have also been declared as winners. The local elections for provincial and municipal government officials have also been concluded.

But it’s the race for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential positions that is the most anticipated. Possibly before the end of May, the new President and Vice-President will be proclaimed as well, and they will have a new mandate to lead the country for six years, until 2028.

The presumptive President is Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, Jr., son of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was ousted during the People Power uprising in 1986. More than 35 years later, the Marcos family is poised to return to Malacanang Palace, the Presidential residence. Marcos, Jr. is on his way to a landslide victory, garnering 31 million votes.

His closest rival, Leni Robredo, could only muster a little over 14 million votes.

Marcos Jr. rallied his supporters with the message of “Unity”, even baptizing their electoral slate as the “UniTeam”. He promised during the campaign period that his central thrust of unity will usher in economic development, and he asked people to trust him and his Vice-President that they will deliver. His choice for Vice-President is Sarah Duterte, the daughter of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte.

Their tandem is actually a practical case of unity. Marcos Jr. was relying on the votes of the “solid north”, the bailiwick of the Marcoses. Meanwhile, Sara was bringing in the votes from Mindanao and Visayas. A year ago, Marcos Jr., was polling at around 27% on the presidential surveys, while Sarah Duterte was at around 24%. When they merged last October and declared their partnership, their survey polls surged to around 55%-60%, and they never looked back.

Political analysists and election experts have given their analysis of what happened, and they presented valuable lessons for Philippine politicians and for the general public. The most important observation I can make is that despite the allegations of electoral fraud (there are no Philippine elections were fraud and electoral violations are not present), no one can take away the fact that Marcos Jr. earned a fresh mandate. A total of 31 million votes is a clear mandate. And it is the first time since 1986 that a majority vote has elected a president.


Now, even assuming that 10% of the votes were rigged or a result of fraud, that only translates to about 3.1 million votes that Marcos, Jr. may have illegally acquired. Even if we put it at 5 million votes, that is not enough to question the results, Marcos Jr. won against the seemingly very popular Pink Movement led by Leni Robredo. Even if we switch all the 5 million votes from Marcos Jr. to Leni Robredo, Marcos is the winner.

Some analysts point out that this is revenge vote of the masses. The poor or those who belong to the lower social classes, or the D and E classes in the social stratification measurements. Poor people have grown tired of traditional politicians promising change and less corruption and more government services since 1986, but no government has delivered. So it seems that most poor people believe that Marcos Jr. can bring back the alleged “Golden Age” of Martial Law that the elder Marcos brought in.

Others insist that this shocking win for Marcos Jr. was a result of more than two decades of rebranding and re-education of the Filipinos via social media. Others have blatantly called this historical revisionism, with the aggressive use of social media such as Facebook and YouTube to paint a totally different picture of Martial Law and the Marcos family. Some historians and fact-checkers have even labeled the Marcos campaign as part of an organized misinformation and disinformation campaign.

Reactions of the general public have been polarized as well. On one hand, young opposers or Marcos and those who survived Martial Law are in shock, some even have been their traumas triggered. A huge young population who immersed themselves in the “Pink Movement” against Marcos are left jaded and in disbelief, asking their parents how could a convicted criminal and tax evader become President?

Meanwhile, on the victor’s side, their key messages are to “move on” and accept a Marcos win, and to “give Marcos a chance”. They claim that the son is not the same as the father, and that he and his 31 million voters deserve a chance.

History will judge if the Filipinos made the biggest blunder or the right political choice last May 9, 2022. I am eagerly waiting for the next chapter. We are just coming to the exciting part.

For me and my family, our consciences are clear. We supported, campaigned and voted for the person we sincerely believed was the right one to lead the Philippine nation.

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