May 04, 2016

Expat Guide: What happens during Philippine Elections

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  • Expat Guide: What happens during Philippine Elections
  • The Philippine National Elections are less than a week away. Candidates are stepping up their “game”, pulling out all the stops, and making sure they get the most out of these last five days.



    EVERY VOTE COUNTS. 2013 Philippine Midterm elections. (Photo courtesy of Associated Press via Dhaka Tribune)


    For anyone who’s new to the elections as a voter, here are things that normally happen on D-day:

    • A bit of last-minute campaigning. Candidates will do anything at all to get those votes. These include offering free rides to the polling precincts, handing out flyers, offering to look up your precinct number, and many more creative ways just to convince anyone. (Of course, these are usually done by their staunchest supporters and not the candidates themselves.)

    • Public schools will be PACKED. Most precincts will be in public schools, as these are the easiest to access for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). If you’re a voter, expect these to be packed tight, especially if you’re one of those who like doing things later in the day (like voting). Roads leading to and away from these schools will likewise become virtual parking lots.

    • Local media will be all about the elections. Every media organization will be out in full force, trying to cover every nook and cranny of the day when we Filipinos choose who will lead us for the next six years. Expect to see vans from GMA and ABS-CBN in vote-rich provinces as well as known precincts of candidates and celebrities.

    • Look out for people with envelopes. Vote-buying is present during every election, and while it can’t be done the same way it was during the manual elections, it still exists, even today. Of course, not everyone with an envelope will try and buy your vote. Sometimes, it’s just their way of saying “Please support these candidates, but don’t tell anyone.”


    If you’re not voting (i.e. you are not a registered voter or an expat) here are the things you can do during this day:

    • Start your last-minute vacation. 55 million Filipinos are expected to vote during the elections. That’s more than half the country’s population not going to the mall, beach, or any other tourist destination. Go out and have fun, but don’t expect quick service either.

    • Stay at home, watch how it all unfolds. There’s still fun to be had without having to go out of your house… like watching how everything turns out. Election results usually take a few days to process, but organizations like the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) always come out with partial, unofficial results. You can speculate and have a bit of fun with these numbers… if you like numbers, that is.

    Election volunteers are welcomed with open arms. PPCRV, NAMFREL, Comelec, media organizations… if they have something to do with the elections, they will accept volunteers. However, make sure to volunteer early, as some organizations have a limit on the number of volunteers they can handle.

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