News / Asia

Philippines Holds Elections Crucial for Aquino Reforms

Residents look for their names on polling lists outside a voting center before casting their votes in the midterm elections in Taguig, Metro Manila, May 13, 2013.
Residents look for their names on polling lists outside a voting center before casting their votes in the midterm elections in Taguig, Metro Manila, May 13, 2013.
Simone Orendain
The Philippines held midterm legislative elections Monday that are seen as a test of President Benigno Aquino’s influence in both houses of Congress. Aquino will need the support of the legislature to continue his so-called "straight path" agenda of fighting corruption and poverty, and fostering peace in the restive south. 

Half of the Senate's 24 seats and the more than 230 House of Representatives seats are being contested.

President Aquino campaigned hard for the Liberal Party’s political candidates.

Aquino is looking to bolster support for legislation that would create an autonomous political structure in the south, where a Muslim insurgency had been waged for nearly 40 years. 

Terms of the preliminary peace deal signed by the rebels and the government in October need to pass Congress.  Both sides want a fully functioning autonomous region by 2016, the year Aquino - who has unprecedented trust from rebel leadership - steps down.

  • Election posters for the midterm elections hang along a street as residents walk to a polling precinct in Taguig, Metro Manila, May 13, 2013.
  • A supporter greets former Philippine President Joseph Estrada after he cast his vote inside a precinct poll at a school in Manila, May 13, 2013.
  • A member of a tribal "Igorot" family casts his vote through a voting machine during midterm elections in Baguio city, northern Philippines, May 13, 2013.
  • A mother with her daughter fills out a ballot form at a school in Manila, May 13, 2013.
  • Residents wait outside a voting center to cast their votes in Taguig, Metro Manila, May 13, 2013.
  • Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos fills out her ballot near her children Senator Ferdinand Jr. "Bongbong" Marcos and Irene Marcos Araneta in Batac, Illoos Norte, May 13, 2013.
  • Residents ride a tricycle past soldiers on a patrol ahead of the midterm elections, in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao in southern Philippines, May 12, 2013.

The administration also needs support for fiscal policies the country has put into place that are meant to alleviate poverty.  In December, President Aquino signed into law a reproductive health bill that had been rejected for 12 years by lawmakers backed by the Catholic Church. 

The law provides for state-funded contraceptives for the poor, sex education for middle and high school students, and mandatory medical care for women who have had abortions.  Abortions are illegal in the Philippines.

At a polling place in a Makati City high school in Metro Manila, 54-year-old Regina de la Rosa says she voted for Senate candidates who resisted the Catholic church’s plea to oppose what they called a population-control measure.

"We’re God-fearing people, but can we feed people by that belief?  I hate seeing people - kids on the street, you know?" she said.

De la Rosa is in the minority in her voting precinct, which overwhelmingly supports the country’s vice president, Jejomar Binay.  Binay’s UNA party includes a slate of candidates who opposed the legislation.

Most UNA Senate candidates are endorsed by a coalition of conservative religious groups, made up mostly of Catholics.  The so-called "White Vote" movement says it wants what it calls "pro-family" leaders.  With the passage of the reproductive health legislation, the movement is concerned about a proposed divorce bill and talk of same-sex marriage.  The coalition says it could bring in about six million votes.

For the past three years, Binay has consistently scored high in public trust surveys.  He went to the high school to vote with his daughter, a Senate candidate, and a son running for reelection as mayor of Makati, which has the highest revenue-generating neighborhood in the country. 

Binay is expecting his candidates to make a good showing.

The Commission on Elections says results are expected within the next several days.  This is the second time the country has used electronic voting, which the commission says had far fewer glitches than last time.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More