#TheFilipinoDecides2016: The Comprehensive Primer

TIMOW’S TURF will deviate away from posting insights of upcoming entertainment programming, as this responsibility will be in the good hands of From the Tube, MC’s Corner and JRDV’s World.

TFD2016 collage
From this post, the Turf will dedicate throughout the aforementioned period where every Filipino cares about: the 2016 national elections. This is Timow’s Turf Election Series: #TheFilipinoDecides2016.


We begin the series on a comprehensive overhead map of what will happen throughout the first half of the year.

E-Day: May 9, 2016

We all know that Election Day will be on Monday, May 9, pursuant to the 1987 Constitution (Article VII, Section 4) and supported by Local Government Code of 1991 (Section 42 of Republic Act 7160). It means that the national and local elections will be synchronized, as supported by Republic Act 7166.

The synchronization of holding the polls will help the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) reduce the constitutional commission’s fixed costs and distractions from ordinary people’s affairs. Not only that, holding a fixed-term election in May is helpful to public schools — a very common structure to act as voting precincts — as students are on summer vacation.

Although it’s not yet a holiday, the President may declare it as soon as possible in order not to be stranded in traffic and missing the chance to vote for first timers (over-all and/or for choosing the next president).

Positions to be elected

National-level positions

On the national level, you will choose one President and one Vice President for a six-year term. Based on electoral history and constitutionality, the said offices in the executive branch of the Government are separately elected unlike in the United States, where they run together in a presidential ticket. They’ll assume office by taking their respective oath of office on the coming June 30.

Coinciding the Centennial Year of the Senate, in this election, 12 senators out of 24 are to be elected. Five of them will run for the second term, one will run for Vice President and six of term are term-limited.

Coinciding the Centennial Year of the Senate, in this election, 12 senators out of 24 are to be elected. Five of them will run for the second term, one will run for Vice President and six of term are term-limited.

Meanwhile, on the legislative branch, the number of Senators to be elected on the upper house of the Philippine Congress — now on its Centennial Year — is 12 for six years, ending June 30, 2022. Hence, the national press’ term of “Magic 12” during the 3 Cs of the race: campaigning, casting and counting At present, six senators are eligible for re-election (Franklin Drilon, TG Guingona, Bongbong Marcos, Sergio Osmena III, Ralph Recto and Tito Sotto) but one of them will run in a higher position (that being Marcos running for Vice President). However, since its restoration of bicameral legislature in 1987, based on the trend, the Senators who seek reelection are often successful to secure their seats. Hence, the remaining five seeking re-election would find it easy to stay on the Senate for their second consecutive term and we will have to concentrate on choosing wisely on the remaining seven. They will be joined with the other 12, elected in 2013, to convene on the 17th Congress and to choose their Senate President in July.

On the lower house, the House of Representatives, you don’t only vote for your district representative (composed of 80% of whole membership and based on geographical boundaries) but you also have a choice to vote for a party-list out of hundreds (composed of 20% of the membership). They both serve for three years and they are elected up to three terms. During the count, it will be easy for legislative districts to declare their victors but party-list representatives will be apportioned, according to the share of the vote, once the national count is completed and the results are statistically impossible to be changed, as long as they don’t go more than three seats. Apportionment and representation will be discussed for another time.

In this election, there are 238 geographically based races to compete and 59 party-list seats to be allocated. That means, five legislative districts are created creating four new seats for the coming legislative polls, thus it automatically creates another seat for party-list representation. However, some geographical representatives are underrepresented while others are too over-represented due to malapportionment and growing, random rate of the population in provinces and cities as Congress didn’t move a muscle after five censuses, but that will be discussed in another post.

Local-level positions

Provincial government

In the provincial level, you have to vote for Governor and Vice-Governor of your province. Again, like the President and Vice President in the higher position, it’s elected separately. Depending on your legislative district, you also cast your vote for Board Members (Sangguniang Panlalawigan). There are 934 elective positions to be filled (772 board members, 81 governors and vice-governors).

Of course, this does not apply to voters residing in independent cities. Baguio City can’t vote for provincial leaders in Benguet or Cebu City — despite being the provincial capital of Cebu — can’t vote for the leaders and representatives in the aforementioned level.

There are 81 separate races on this level and this election will mark the first time for the residents of Davao Occidental to vote for such positions.

City/Municipality Government

In the local government, regardless if it’s a city or a municipality, you have to choose your Mayor and its Vice-Mayor. Aside from executive positions, you also choose your councilors (Sangguniang Panlungsod o Sangguniang Bayan), depending on the status of the local government unit (LGU).

But wait, there’s more.

Regional-level positions

In Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), you also choose your governor and vice-governor and representatives  — depending on your location — in their Regional Legislative Assembly.

The ballot paper and the directions

The ballot you'll receive in May is similar to this sample portion of the ballot in 2010 pictured above. Before that, we have to write the names of candidates in certain positions and sometimes, we forgot what name should be placed.

The ballot you’ll receive in May is similar to this sample portion of the ballot in 2010 pictured above. Before that, we have to write the names of candidates in certain positions and sometimes, we forgot what name should be placed.

The ballot paper you’ll be receiving is of the same format since the inception of automated voting in 2010. The front side will be printed on the choice of national positions (i.e. president, vice president, senators and party list). If you are a registered voter in Pampanga and your friends whose precincts are in Metro Manila or in Mindanao, you’ll vote for the same said positions.

The back part of the ballot, on the other hand, is another story; it will be printed on the choice of geographical positions (i.e. district representative, provincial governor and vice governor, provincial board members, mayor and vice mayor and councilors) which vary according to the situs of your local precinct.

The directions are simple: Simply shade the oval against your chosen candidate(s) as instructed in the ballot paper and yes, you can vote less than what is required or skip any positions you dislike but if you vote more than required, your ballot won’t be counted.

The voting machine

Voting is not complete without a voting machine, the physical receptacle that counts our sacred suffrage. This year, Smartmatic has released a new voting machine called SAES-1800plus. Just like the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) on the previous two elections, you simply feed the ballot paper. However, on this new machine, if you made a mistake of not voting one or any position after glancing on the screen, you can press the red button with an “X”, releasing your ballot paper and have it corrected. If you don’t have any corrective mistake, press the green button with the check button and you will release a long strip of paper — similar to a point-of-sale receipt — printing your chosen candidates and that strip will be the problem of the election inspectors on how to utilize them.

So far, you’ve learned the fundamentals of the three simple Ws — the what, when and where — of voting. So that, when you cast the vote on that Monday in May, you know what to do as part of your civic duty as a Filipino. On the next issues, we will tackle other things related to this election series such as representation, debates and election broadcast repertoire.

Vote wisely and conscientiously.

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Photo credits:

  • 2010 Sample ballot paper, courtesy of cenpeg.org
  • Election 2016 collage and Senate composite photo made using PowerPoint.
  • The Filipino Decides 2016 logo made by Inkscape.

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