The lingering political crisis in the Philippines didn't bode well for the May 14, 2007 elections. From the beginning of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's ascension to the presidency in 2001, instances of politically-motivated killings, elections-related or otherwise, have been increasing at an alarming rate. And what was once seen as mere random political harassment against the opposition is now considered by many to be an integral part of a more ruthless strategy by the administration for staying in power.
Voting commenced under tight security. The bloody three-month mid-term elections campaign has tallied more than 100 people dead. In this prevailing culture of political violence combined with the likelihood of massive cheating and the country’s outmoded manual ballot system, the democratic forces of Philippine civil society organised teams of international observers to be present from May 10 to 18.
For the previous elections in 2004 the Active Citizenship Foundation (ACF) pioneered the first Compact for Peaceful Elections International Observers Mission (IOM) focussing on election-related violence. Sixteen representatives from 10 countries participated, including three from Australia. (See articles in Kasama Vol. 18 No. 2 April-June 2004). Building on this experience the ACF mobilised again to organise this year’s Compact IOM 2007. The participants recorded first-hand information of the conduct of the elections.