No deus ex machina in Manila – ISN

On the way out: Arroyo billboard near old city of Intramuros in Manila (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

MANILA — In a first for The Philippines – a country with intermittent electricity supply and a history of electoral fraud – a computerised system is being used instead of the manual count used in most other countries. Despite 11th-hour glitches that meant the recall and re-programming of 76000 flash cards used to scan votes, the election commission (Comelec) remains confident that “the elections will go through”, according to Comelec chair Jose Melo. It is still not clear, however, whether the equipment will be ready and distributed across the whole archipelago in time. The election commission nonetheless is resisting calls from candidates and media to conduct a manual count in parallel and as a back-up to the computerised alternative, as Filipinos prepare to vote for a successor to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, choosing from 3 main contenders have been described as a saint, a CEO and a movie star. The ‘saint’ in question is Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino, son of former President and democracy icon Cory, who died in August 2009.

People’s Power and Manipulated Masses – Asia Times

SINGAPORE – Chaos caused by red and yellow clad protestors in Thailand over the past few years must have evoked bittersweet memories for Philippine activists, who donned the same team colors when red pro- and yellow anti-regime protesters took to the streets and brought down Ferdinand Marcos’ authoritarian government in 1986. The Philippines and Thailand have often been cited for their close political parallels, with both home to thriving civil societies but with political power dominated by traditional political elites. Both are fragile democracies, with a history of political instability, that are trying to leave their martial law baggage behind.