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Columns - JGL Eye
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Thursday, 17 June 2010 08:43

 

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(Journal Group Link International)

 

Is the Philippines Ready for Block Voting?

 

C HICAGO (JGLi) – The shocking loss of Sen. Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas in the vice-presidential election might have left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone, notably incoming President Noynoy Aquino, who did not expect that sometimes in politics anything goes.

 

I don’t buy the alibi that the winning combination of Noy-Bi (Sen. Aquino-Mayor Jejomar Binay) junked their partners (Senator Roxas and former President Joseph Estrada) down the road.

 

The result was not really a surprise. It was completely part of the system that turned Sen. Chiz Escudero into a magician when he pushed and pulled the winning ticket.

 

And I don’t begrudge Noynoy either if he supports the standard line of defense of losers, like Mar Roxas, of filing an election protest to erase all election doubts.

 

But offhand if published reports are true that Senator Roxas has to come up with 35 million pesos (nearly one million dollars) when he files his protest, like the losing path taken by Sen. Loren Legarda in her protest against Vice President Noli De Castro, the good senator from Capiz can re-channel those big amount of money to some other worthwhile endeavors.

 

For instance, Senator Roxas can earmark that money to improve the economic livelihood of his fellow Capizeños, who feel that his illustrious progeny – his namesake grandfather who became the first president of the postwar Philippine Republic and his father, Sen. Gerry Roxas – was very slow in introducing progress to their very own Capiz province.

 

The elections gave his fellow Capizeños an opportunity to compare Capiz to the backyard of Mayor Binay of Makati, who upgraded Makati and endeared him to Makati voters, where Mr. Binay won more percentage votes than Roxas got in his Capiz province.

 

BACKSLIDE TO MARCOS YEARS

 

Or Mar Roxas can use that money to lobby for an amendment of the Philippine Constitution that would not allow cross voting in presidential and vice-presidential elections anymore.

 

If he wants, he can overstretch it, by promoting block voting down to the lowliest barangay kagawad as Marcos did during the height of martial law.

 

In Illinois, I observed that the winning state governor and his vice governor called lieutenant governor have always been a winning tandem during the last 24 years. I have yet to see a winning cross voting.

 

But Senator Roxas will probably need more than 35 million pesos to make it so.

 

For some quirks in the American constitution -- the Philippines’ constitutional model – block voting in presidential and vice presidential elections have become the rule than the exception.

 

Political analysts say that if the presidential candidate posts more than 5-million popular votes, it is very likely that he can carry his vice president with him. But if the lead is less than 500,000 votes, the election is too close to call.

 

In fact, even if a presidential candidate wins the popular vote, he can still lose the election. This happened to Al Gore, who collected 543,895 more popular votes than George W. Bush in 2000. Gore still lost to Bush. Gore needed only five more Electoral votes to get the magic 271 Electoral votes.

 

At the end of the day -- the most abused cliché in the current Philippine political dictionary -- Gore lost the 25 Electoral votes, when he lost in the swing state – the Florida elections.

 

It appears odd in a country that is supposed to adhere on the rule of the majority but Gore’s loss was the fourth election since 1876 that the electoral votes did not reflect the popular vote. And in most of these cases, block voting had prevailed.

 

Because of the bigger number of voters and the bigger size of America, perhaps the founding fathers of the Philippine Constitution did not bother to adopt the indirect voting in America called Electoral College.

 

“JUANA” INDIRECT ELECTIONS?

 

T he Electoral College consists of the popularly-elected representatives (electors) who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Each state appoints electors equal to the number of senators and representatives of that state. But no senators or representatives or persons holding an office of trust or profit are appointed as electors.

 

So, the voters elect the “electors,” whom they know who the President and Vice President they are going to vote. The winning electors take all the votes of the state.

 

But there are cases when voters elect “electors” in big states, like California and Texas, who will represent the states in voting for the President and Vice President. Sometimes, if candidates narrowly lose in these states, if they lose the electoral votes, they still end up getting more popular votes nationally.

 

So, Senator Roxas can either push for a constitutional amendment to write into the Philippine Constitution that block voting be adopted in presidential and vice-presidential election to do away with direct cross voting in Philippine elections.

 

Or he can push for the adoption of the indirect voting of the American system that adherents believe is protecting “smaller states” as a feature of federalism in the United States. This will certainly be music to the ear of Filipino federal advocates, like outgoing Sen. Nene Pimentel.

 

I just hope this “charter change” (Cha Cha) will not end up changing the presidential system into parliamentary  -- one of the main reasons the Filipino people flatly rejected the presidential candidates of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and soundly supported the election of Noynoy Aquino. # # #

 

Editor’s Notes: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

 



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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 June 2010 08:47
 

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