WHAT IS SUFFRAGE? Article V section I of The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines stated; Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.
On the other hand, suffrage is one of the political rights enjoyed by the citizens of the country. This is because through the exercise of suffrage, citizens can participate in the establishment and administration of government.
SUFFRAGE AND ITS SCOPE Suffrage also refers to the right andobligation of the citizens to vote in theelection of government officials and indeciding on public questions submittedto them. Thus, it includes election,plebiscite, referendum, initiative, andrecall.
ELECTION It is the principal means by which the citizens vote and select certain officials to represent them in the administration of the government. Election may be local or national. An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century.
PLEBISCITE A plebiscite is a popular vote on a proposal which includes the entire populace. Voters are asked to either reject or accept the proposal, with the outcome of the plebiscite determining the fate of the proposed measure, action, constitution, or other political proposal. A plebiscite should not be confused with a general election or regular voting, as no party candidates are included in it. The word comes from the Latin plebis, “the people” and scitum, “decree.” Under a plebiscite, the people are allowed to decide on an issue of importance, and the outcome of the vote is like a decree from the citizens. Both democracies and dictatorships use plebiscites, although for very different purposes. In both instances, the vote cannot truly be called a plebiscite unless all eligible voters are able to participate.
REFERENDUM It refers to the process wherein a law or part of law passed by the legislature or local legislative body is submitted to the people for their approval or rejection. Article VI section 32 The congress shall, as early as possible, provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions there from, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act of law or part thereof passed by the Congress or local legislative body after the registration of a petition therefor signed by at least ten per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters thereof.
INITIATIVEIt is a process whereby the people are given the opportunity to directly propose or enact laws. This can also be used by the people in proposing changes to the fundamental law of the land.
RECALL It is a means by which local officials may be removed from the office even before the expiration of their term of office by a vote of the resident . Article X Section 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units.
Who May EXERCISE Suffrage? At least 18 years of age A resident of the country for at least one year A resident of Not the place where they disqualified intend to for by law at least 6 months
Who are DISQUALIFIED to vote? Any person who has been sentenced for a prison term of not less than one year, except after 5 years from completion of his sentence Who has been found guilty of committing a crime involving disloyalty to the State (rebellion & treason), except after 5 years from completion of his sentence, and Any person found to be not normal mental condition.
KINDS OF ELECTIONGENERAL LOCALELECTIONS ELECTIONS FOUR TYPESNATIONAL SPECIALELECTIONS ELECTIONS
• General Elections are those held for the purpose of electing national and local officials simultaneously.• National elections are those conducted to elect the President, Vice-President and members of Congress.• Local Elections those held for purpose of selecting officials in the region, provinces, cities, and municipalities.• Special Elections are those held on a date different from that of regular elections. Special elections are held due to any of the following reasons (Zaide, 1994): when a vacancy occurs in an elective office due to death or incapacity of the incumbent officials; when the scheduled regular election is deferred due to typhoon or other emergency; and when the regular elections are cancelled due to terrorism, fraud and massive vote-buying.
ABSENTEE VOTING According to the Constitution, Congress ismandated to provide a system for securing thesecrecy and sanctity of the ballot and a systemfor absentee voting by qualified Filipinosabroad. Responding to this mandate, Congressenacted Republic Act No. 9189, more popularlyknown as the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of2003. This law provides that overseas Filipinosmay vote for president, vice-president, senatorsand party-list representatives only. This law,however, does not allow absentee voters to casttheir votes on plebiscite and referendum.
The supervision ofRules elections in the Philippines is under theGoverning charge of the CommissionElections on Elections or COMELEC. In the process ofin the supervising the conductCountry of elections, the COMELEC is guided by the rules governing elections as stated in the provisions of Republic Act No.7166.
• Elections an Campaign Period. Campaign period for the President, Vice-President and Senators is 90 days before the day of election and 45 days before the day of election for members of the House of Representatives and elective provincial, city, and municipal officials. Campaigning outside the prescribed period is considered an election offense.• Nomination and Selection of Official Candidates. Even the period for political conventions for the purpose of forming political parties and nominating official candidates is fixed by the aforementioned legislation.
• Filing of Certificate of Candidacy. The certificate of candidacy of an individual running for national elections is required to be filed at the main office of the COMELEC not later than the day prior to the beginning to the campaign period. On the other hand, those running for elective positions in the provinces are to submit their certificates of candidacy to their provincial election supervisor, while those running for municipal and city elective positions are to file their certificates with their city or municipal election registrar.
• Precincts and Polling Places. Every barangay is required to have at least one election precinct, with each precinct having not more than 300 voters. A polling place is supposed to be set up in each barangay, where the board of election inspectors conducts election proceeding and where voters cast their votes.• Registration of Voters. The registration of voters is held on the 15th Saturday prior to the day of election for those who are to reach 18 years or before the day of election and for those qualified to cast their vote but not included in the list of voters. Additional registration date can be designated by the COMELEC when it is needed.
• Common Poster Area. The COMELEC is empowered to designate common poster areas in the barangay where candidates can post their election propaganda announcing their candidacy.• Prohibited Forms of Propaganda. Notable among the prohibited forms of election propaganda are the following: printing, publishing or distributing any poster or printed matter urging voters to vote for or against any candidate without bearing the name of the printer and payer.
• Official Watchers. Every political party and candidate is entitled to one watcher in every polling place and canvassing center. Thiose running for positions in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlunsod or Sangguniang Bayan belonging to the same party are entitled to only one watcher, as well.• Board of Election Inspectors. The Board of Election Inspectors is constituted by a chairman and two members who are permanent public school teachers. Nevertheless, when there is a shortage in public school teachers who can serve during scheduled elections, teachers from the private schools are appointed by the COMELEC.
• Board of Canvassers. In every province, city, and municipality a board of canvassers are constituted. The Provincial Board of Canvassers is composed of the provincial election supervisor or a lawyer in the COMELEC regional office as chairman, the provincial fiscal as member, and the provincial superintendent of schools as member. The City Board of Canvassers is composed of the city election registrar or COMELEC lawyer as chairman, the city fiscal as vice chairman and the city superintendent of schools as member. On the other hand, comprising the Municipal Board of Canvassers are the municipal election registrar or a COMELEC representative as chairman, the municipal treasurer as vice-chairman, and the most senior district school supervisor as member.
• Pre-Proclamation Controversies. Pre – proclamation controversies are supposed to be filed with the board of canvassers and have to be resolved by the COMELEC within seven days from receipt of evidence or record.
POLITICAL PARTIES• A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office.  Parties participate in electoral campaigns and educational outreach or protest actions. Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests.
Functions of Political Parties1. Parties draw together people who have similar political philosophies and ideas. Whilst these people may not agree on all matters (hence the existence of factions and “tendencies”), parties are a means by which people of broadly similar interests can meet, organiZe and campaign.2. Parties are the chief means by which political power is exercised in Australia. All Federal, State and Territory governments are composed of people who belong to political parties. Electors usually vote for parties, rather than for individual candidates.
3. Parties select candidates to contest elections for public office. This process is known as pre-selection. The choice offered to voters is thus the choice offered by parties. This is especially important in safe seats where one party consistently wins. Since the parties provide the candidates for election, it follows that parties also provide the nation’s political leaders.4. In the parliamentary arena, political parties provide the government and opposition. The party or parties which wins a majority of seats in the lower house, the House of Representatives, forms the government. The party or parties which win the second largest number of seats becomes the Opposition. Much of the political debate is defined in government versus opposition terms.
5. In government and opposition, political parties provide organisational support. The partymachine, also known as the extra-parliamentary wing of the party, is responsible for organising and financing election campaigns, developing policies and recruiting members. The organisational support of political parties is vital to the stability and viability of a party’s parliamentary members.6. Parties articulate philosophies and develop policies. All parties have methods of debating issues and formulating policies to be presented to the electorate during election campaigns. In government or opposition, parties utilise these policy-making processes to determine their attitude to legislation and issues of the day.
7. Parties are an avenue for community groups to influence . the decision-making process. Many pressure groups have close links with political parties, such as trade unions with the ALP, business groups with the Liberal Party, or farming organisations with the National Party. Contact and access to the organisational and parliamentary wings is considered vital by groups aiming to influence the development or implementation of public policy.8. Parties are one of the main avenues for political debate and discussion in the community. Since most members of parliament are members of political parties, it follows that parliamentary debate, questioning and scrutiny is focused around their interests and preferences.9. Parties are ultimately responsible for the structure of the machinery of government. The organisation of the Public Service and statutory authorities lies in the hands of the government of the day. In practice, parties can make appointments to the public sector from the ranks of their members and supporters.
NON-PARTISAN SYSTEMSINGLE-PARTY PARTY TWO-PARTY SYSTEM SYSTEM SYSTEM MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM
• Nonpartisan democracy (also no-party democracy) is a system of representative governmentor organization such that universal and periodic elections take place without reference to political parties.• A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election. Sometimes the term de facto single-party state is used to describe a dominant-party systemwhere laws or practices prevent the opposition from legally getting power. Typically, single-party states hold the suppression of political factions, except as transitory issue oriented currents within the single party or permanent coalition as a self evident good.
• A two-party system is a system where two major political parties dominate voting in nearly allelections at every level of government and, as a result, all or nearly all elected offices are members of one of the two major parties. Under a two-party system, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature and is usually referred to as the majority party while the other is the minority party.• A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally larger than two but lower than ten. It is a system where there are large amounts of major and minor political parties that all hold a serious chance of receiving office, and because they all compete, a majority may not come to be, forcing the creation of a coalition
The Development of Philippine Political Parties• Philippine political parties are essentially nonideological vehicles for personal and factional political ambition. The party system in the early 1990s closely resembled that of the premartial law years when the Nacionalista and Liberal parties alternated in power. Although they lacked coherent political programs, they generally championed conservative social positions and avoided taking any position that might divide the electorate.
• Each party tried to appeal to all regions, all ethnic groups, and all social classes and fostered national unity by never championing one group or region. Neither party had any way to enforce party discipline, so politicians switched capriciously back and forth. The parties were essentially pyramids of patronclient relationships stretching from the remotest villages to Manila. They existed to satisfy particular demands, not to promote general programs. Because nearly all senators and representatives were provincial aristocrats, the parties never tackled the fundamental national problem--the vastly inequitable distribution of land, power, and wealth.
• Ferdinand Marcos mastered that party system, then altered it by establishing an all-embracing ruling party to be the sole vehicle for those who wished to engage in political activity. He called it the New Society Movement (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan). The New Society Movement sought to extend Marcoss reach to far corners of the country. Bureaucrats at all levels were welladvised to join. The New Society Movement offered unlimited patronage. The party won 163 of 178 seats in the National Assembly in 1978 and easily won the 1980 local elections. In 1981 Marcos actually had to create his own opposition, because no one was willing to run against him.
PHILIPPINE ELECTORAL SYSTEM• The Philippines is a functioning democracy, though popular protests have forced out two presidents in almost more than 20 years: first,Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 for alleged electoral manipulation and second, Joseph Estrada in 2001 for allegedly plundering the economy. The country’s politics have continued to be characterized by volatility. The Philippines is still grappling with Muslim separatists, predominantly those of the island of Mindanao. In addition, the current president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, won a contentious election in 2004 and is now facing an electoral scandal, after a phone call between her and an election official, taped before the election had concluded, turned up. President Arroyo has denied she made any attempt to influence the vote.
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