Manila (AsiaNews) - "The large turnout for these elections (85%) hit everyone. Thousands of people, especially young people, waited for hours before the polls waiting to vote. Nobody gave up despite the heat. This is a clear sign that the Filipino people want change. " This is what Fr Julius F. Marian, a PIME missionary at the Euntes Asian Centre of Zamboanga (Mindanao), for over 20 years in the Philippines tells AsiaNews.
On May 10 more than 50 million Filipinos voted to elect their President, Vice President, 250 members of Congress, 12 senators (24) and over 17,000 provincial and local representatives. The victory was awarded to Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino son of Cory and Ninoy Aquino, the opposition leader killed in 1983 during the regime of late president Ferdinand Marcos. He won more than 43% of votes, setting his campaign on fighting corruption and radical change in the country after six years of President Arroyo’s government.
Fr. Marian says: "The awakening of the nation began August 1, 2009 with the funeral of Cory Aquino, where millions of people participated and this was a determined push for Noynoy’s victory. "Even if he does not have the charisma of his father - he continues - everyone knows that he is honest, because they know who his parents are and honesty is the thing that most affects people now."
According to the missionary the Filipino people’s desire for change was crucial to the success of these elections. They began with the ominous Maguidanao massacre which occurred on November 23, and the fear of fraud related to the use of electronic voting.
"Everyone was surprised by the peaceful environment in which the vote took place - he says - even here in Mindanao, one of the most violent and problematic regions of the country, there were few cases of violence and the military police did their homework by giving a sense of security to people. " He also resizes the criticisms launched during the campaign against the Electoral Commission (Comelec) accused of failing to investigate the electronic voting equipment. "The machines worked -" Father Marian notes - but there were too few. Nobody expected such a turnout and this why there were delays in the queues at polling stations and in the tally of votes".
Another successful element, according to the priest, was the use of over 45 thousand volunteers from the Parish Pastoral Council, appointed by the Election Commission to report cases of fraud within the polling stations. "Thanks to their efforts – he says - young people have rediscovered the desire to get involved by voting, giving a further sign of hope to our country."