Davao report: Election day

election day

yesterday most of the businesses in the Philippines were closed for elections. I happen to think it’s not such a bad idea trying to encourage people to vote by releasing them from work. On the other hand, some people just took it as a holiday.

Last night, when I was having dinner with Jerome, I noticed his forefinger was all purple around the nail. Turns out they stain your finger with ink after you vote so that you can’t vote twice. Rigged elections have been a major issue here in the past, and all kinds of measures have been taken but this was a new one on me.

I talked to my Tita Juliet’s driver about elections, and he said he was boycotting them because everyone was so corrupt. He had nothing but bad things to say about all the people who were running. This appears to be a fairly universal reason to avoid elections. Others are just resigned to it, and try not to elect “politicians” — that word is synonymous with “corrupt.” They’re voting for wealthy businesspeople instead, figuring that they’re more savvy and less likely to be tempted by bribes. Of course, in the U.S. right now, “wealthy businessman” is not necessarily a compliment…

Probably the most curious thing was the Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief saying that the day was generally peaceful. This article in the Manila Bulletin caught my eye because the headline in the Philippine Star was “75 dead in election violence.” It’s all a matter of perspective I guess. They’ve had far more violent election days in the past, the PNP put the estimate at 38 dead, and figured that was a good day.

The PNP reported a total of 56 election-related violent incidents in the course of the campaign since March 31 where a total of 38 persons were killed and 20 others wounded. Among those killed in the list of the PNP report were 13 incumbent elective officials, 13 candidates, 11 civilian supporters, and one AFP personnel.

So who am I to say? Reformers here are sometimes popular (the vigilante mayor Duterte for one), sometimes unpopular or with mixed reviews (like the mayor of Tagum, a businessman, who accepted no negotiations on tax rates for individuals, saying instead that even rich people had to pay the full amount. he was respected & appreciated by some, but lost his re-election bid.) Change comes slowly, and corruption is systemic here. Reminds me of the HIV virus, always changing and everyone has their own ideas about treatment — each one which comes with harsh side effects.

My family stays well away from all that, preferring the neutral zone which is a good business decision for hotel owners. Me? I’m just going to pack up my camera and head off to flooded Manila to videotape dance instructors in action. My next post may be more waterlogged. Dexter — how do I say “flooded” in tagalog?

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