By Jim Gomez
The Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The drama and glitter of the U.S. elections had many Filipinos enthralled. What left them envious was how fast and orderly the process went.
No allegations of massive fraud like those that have plagued the Southeast Asian country since dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted by a peaceful “people power” revolt in 1986. No outbreaks of violence that leave dozens of candidates and supporters dead. No weeks-long wait for final results.
So when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called Nov. 5 to congratulate Democrat Barack Obama, she also praised the U.S. electoral system.
“We welcome his triumph in the same vein that we place the integrity of the U.S. electoral process and the choices made by the American people in high regard,” Arroyo said in a statement.
In a nationally televised news conference, where Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita read Arroyo’s statement, some wondered if Filipinos could ever experience elections like America’s.
“We’re quite envious,” said Marie Pena-Ruiz, who works for the state-run radio station DZRB, citing the soaring acceptance speech by Obama and the equally bridge-building concession address by John McCain.
The Philippines is a long way from political maturity, opposition leader Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said.
With poverty gripping a third of the populace, many politically entrenched elite families have bought their way to power. Elections are still won by “guns, goons and gold,” Pimentel said. ♦