Election in Philippines: A Big Step Forward Despite Ten Deaths

Six Scandinavians were part of the International Observers Mission, which were monitoring the Philippine election. The group of foreign observers saw vote buying, lack of secrecy and illegal campaigning but still they believe this election was a big step forward for Filipino democracy.

Ten people were killed in connection to the Filipino election last week. Still it is called a peaceful and successful election. This was pointed out by Jun Lozada, one of the leaders of Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections in Philippines, which this Friday presented their report on last weeks elections.
“It is ironic when ten people die it is called a peaceful election. We are still waiting for real democracy.”

Represented all over Philippines
The foreign observers were spilt into different groups, who were to observe the election in different hotspots all over the country. All over the observed big lines at the polling stations, missing voting secrecy, illegal campaigning, and problems with the automated voting machines.

But in the southern part of Philippines the observes also observed vote buying, fear, and exclusion of the opposition candidate.
“When some the other groups maybe heard rumours of vote buying, we saw it happening just in front of us. It was just a simple bargain about how many pesos you would get if you vote like this and this,” told one of the observes from the US.

This year was the first time in the Philippines with automatized and computerized voting, and in almost all places this caused problems. The voting machines did not work good enough and there was a lack of support staff claimed a joint group of foreign observers.

The H.O.P.E. team
One thing the observers underlined was the professionalism with the Armed Forces the Police had handled the elections. This year their was established a special task force which secured peaceful elections, and this elections was different compared to earlier.
“Six years ago the voting ballots were filled out before we arrived at the polling stations. Now we can actually vote,” said Ann Pargas Rosales, one of the local leaders of Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections.

The six Scandinavians who joined the International Observers Mission
Tone Tingsgard
Tone Tingsgard is member of the Swedish Parliament with a long experience in election observation. Presently, she is the president of Organization for Safety and Security in Europe (OSSE).

Lennart Niemelä
Freelance Writer
A Graduate in Asian Studies from Lund University, Sweden, where his regional specialization was Southeast Asia and his particular interests focused on the Philippines, civil society and human rights issues.

Pekka Borg
Pekka Borg is working as a consultant of evaluation at the Social Services Department of Helsinki City. He has been working mainly with social assistance and poverty related issues. He is an ex-chairperson and now a board member of the Finnish Philippine Society. Pekka lived one year in the Philippines with his wife Riitta Vartti in 1989 and has since then followed continuously the developments in the Philippines. In addition, he has written several articles on Philippine history and politics for Finnish publications.

Riitta Vartti
Riitta Vartti is a Finnish writer from Helsinki, Finland. She is the author of five Finnish novels. The latest of them, “The Year of Typhoon” tells about life in the Philippines in 1989 when she stayed in the country with her husband Pekka Borg for one year. She has also edited an anthology of Filipino short stories entitled “Firefly”, translated into Finnish by her group of women activists. She teaches Finnish language to Filipino immigrants in Finland, and basic Tagalog to Finns, and for her teaching she has produced lesson books and a dictionary of 30 000 entries, published in March 2010. Riitta Vartti has been a member of the Finnish-Philippine Society for 20 years and works nowadays as secretary, webmaster and information officer.

Tiina Hiltunen
Tiina Hiltunen is a political assistant of MP and a representative of TSL/Workers Educational association of Finland and Finish Social Democratic Party.

Mikko Sauli
Miko Sauli is a NGO activist and free lancer journalist. Also, he is a representative of TSL/ Workers
Educational Association of Finland and Finnish Social Democratic Party. He is also the newly elected Chairperson of ATTAC Finland

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