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Philippine Elections 2010

An election official drips indelible ink onto the fingers of Filipina voter after casting her ballot in a polling station in Maguindanao, May 10, 2010. (Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images)
by Jennifer Mattson
10 May 2010

by Arnel Paciano Casanova

PAMPANGA PROVINCE, Philippines, May 10, 2010 -- Filipino voters cast their ballots to elect a new president amid widespread
violence and voting machine glitches, which caused massive delays at polling
stations nationwide. This is the country's first automated

Initial observations show many automated machines failed and
voters waited in long lines of up to six hours in the hot sun to exercise their
right to democracy. At
least nine people were killed in election-related violence, according to the
Associated Press, with many problems, in particular, in the
southern province of Mindanao.

Everyone is anxious to see final election results, in a closely
watched race that could be a turning point in Philippines' political history.

Early election returns show presidential candidate Benigno
"Noynoy" Aquino III
of the Liberal Party leading in the polls among
the nine candidates. The son of former President Corazon Aquino, who led the
"people power" revolt, was unknown for most of his political
life until his mother's death last August catapulted him to national consciousness.

Running on a platform for honest government and against corruption,
Filipinos are looking for transparency after the corruption scandals plaguing outgoing
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Last week, Aquino raised the possibility of another "people power"
movement in case of massive fraud or delay in the elections.

However, it should be noted Aquino, himself, has been criticized
for upholding family real estate interests and failing to implement agrarian
reforms in their land estate, Hacienda Luisita.

Also on the ticket is Manuel Villar, Jr. of the Nationalista
Party. One of the richest people in the Philippines, Villar made billions in
real estate and is credited with leading impeachment proceedings against former
President Estrada based on corruption charges. Estrada's government was eventually
toppled due to public outrage and the eventual withdrawal of support by the armed forces in 2001.

Former President Joseph Estrada, also in the running, was
eventually pardoned by President Arroyo. Estrada seeks vindication of his fall
from power by seeking the presidency again. A former movie star, his populist platform is popular among poorer voters.

Gilberto Teodoro, a Harvard graduate and former Secretary of Defense, is the
anointed candidate by the Arroyo administration although in the past weeks,
massive defections from the Lakas-Kampi coalition, the administration party,
caused the weakening of the his once-vaunted candidacy.

After reeling from two administrations
that have eroded the public trust, Filipinos are now counting on the election
to provide a leader that will deliver on promises of honest government, peace
and economic development. We all hope that despite the trouble and the fears,
democracy will prevail in this part of the world.

Arnel Paciano Casanova is
the Executive Director, Asia Society Philippines.