ASIAN DEMOCRATS SALUTE FILIPINO PEOPLE'S DEMONSTRATION OF DEMOCRACY
Manila – 12 May 2010
The World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA), the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict-Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA) welcome the successful conclusion of balloting in the Philippines on 10 May. The hope, as WFDA expressed last week, that the elections could help to return the Philippines to the path of democratic development, at this point appears on track to be fulfilled.
Most importantly, we were impressed by the dedication and patience of the Filipino people, who turned out in very large numbers, despite having to grapple with an entirely new voting method and enduring very long waits often under hot sun. Likewise, we applaud the polling station staff (BEI) who made great efforts to implement the new system, as well the many civil society organizations, such as the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Bantay Eleksyon, and others, to scrutinize the process. Finally, we also commend the many other institutions which made significant contributions, notably the media and the security and law enforcement agencies. Taken together, this collective commitment demonstrates the high value the Filipino people place on their democratic rights, which should be an inspiration for all democrats around the region.
Of course, there were a wide array of technical difficulties, mostly related to the new automated voting system, the hasty preparation of which had unfortunately raised public anxiety. These issues will be reported in more detail by ANFREL, which deployed a nationwide international observer mission. At present, these issues appear to have been random, so they ought not to have a significant impact on the results for most races. Nonetheless, the right of candidates to lodge protests must be respected, and any such complaints addressed in a thorough and credible fashion. This is a necessary step to further strengthen public confidence in the fairness of the system.
However, we regret that many incidents of violence still occurred at all stages of the process, resulting in at least 29 deaths since the official start of the election period in January, more than 10 of these on election day. As the results are being confirmed, we call on all candidates and members of the public to refrain from any violent responses to the elections.
Finally, as the next group of leaders prepares to take office on 30 June, we remind them of the immense task that faces them. The expectations of the Filipino people are very high for rebuilding the public institutions of democratic governance and bringing lasting peace to all parts of the country. The regional community too expects that the Philippines can regain the place it held after the 1986 "People Power" revolution as a leader of regional democratic development.