Pinoys in London note lessons from May 10 polls

By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at May 20 2010 01:17 PM | Updated as of May 20 2010 09:17 PM

Dr. Emmanuel Yujuico, research fellow at LSE IDEAS (L), Dr. Eva-Lotta Hedman, research fellow at LSE IDEAS (C), Political Consul (Philippine Embassy) Louis Alferez (R) during the panel discussion at London School of Economics and Political Science/Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

LONDON - While the last leg of election mechanisms was underway and votes were being canvassed in the Philippines, scholars and members of the academic community in London and some Filipino community leaders embarked on a panel discussion to assess the recently-concluded Philippine elections.

The event, dubbed as “From People Power to Ballot Power: Countdown to a New Philippine Presidency,” was spearheaded by LSE IDEAS, a center for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Political-consul of the Philippine embassy in London Louis Alferez, who was one of the speakers, addressed the questions on the future of the Philippine economy, the Mindanao peace process and the government policies concerning the expatriate community.

LSE IDEAS research fellow Dr. Eva-Lotta Hedman, also speaker at the event, discussed the big picture in the local and national level. Hedman has done extensive research and studies and has written books on Southeast Asian politics, particularly Philippine politics.

Successful automated elections

Hedman said that contrary to predictions and fears of fraud and failings in the new untested automated vote count, “the process has been very successful.”

She also said that it has not been entirely without failings, but it has succeeded in delivering the votes and was done speedily.

“The big picture is one of a very successful electoral process, one which had been very much anticipated by recent opinion polls and borne out by the count so far,” explained Hedman.  

“We have been used to a situation where we have to wait for days, weeks perhaps to come out with results, particularly the presidential count but due to automated system, while it has some teething problems, it worked very well because we have a clear winner in a single day,” said Dr. Emmanuel Yujuico, a research fellow at LSE IDEAS who chaired the discussion.

The panelists observed that the automation of the vote count has eliminated the possibility of all sorts of "wholesale fraud," and there has been comparatively little violence across the country.

No radical transformation of RP politics

Louis Alferez discusses the prospects of Philippine economy under a new leadership/Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

It was, however, noted that the recent developments do not necessarily translate into a radical transformation of Philippine politics.

“We have to remember that Aquino has risen to prominence in the aftermath of his mother’s demise in the fall, and he is, after all, the son of 2 former politicians," Hedman said.

“He also had the Liberal Party which is a party not really of a platform and a program as much as personal links and webs of alliances that stitched together national and local level politicians,” she added.

At the local level, she highlighted that familiar faces are back, such as the Marcoses of Ilocos, the Garcias of Cebu, the Ampatuans of Maguindanao, among many others.

It was also observed that while automated machines have fast-tracked the counting, the more radical transformation in Philippine politics remained elusive, as seen in the staying power of local politicians and dynasties  in the Philippines.