Enhancing Security to Restore Credibility: Safeguarding Elections in the Philippines, 2008-2010
Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition, Elections, Accountable Policing
Election Security, Internal Accountability, Non-state security actors
electoral management body, electoral violence, clans, checkpoints, gun bans, Philippines, private security, vulnerability mapping, election commission
Citizens of the Philippines braced for renewed election violence in 2010, as bitter political feuds and longstanding family rivalries simmered. Candidate-hired private militias and other armed political groups threatened to disrupt presidential and local voting, as they had in 2004. The job of building safety, trust and credibility into the electoral process fell to Jose A.R. Melo, a former associate justice of the Supreme Court who took over as head of the Commission on Elections in 2008, after a series of scandals that culminated in the resignation of the panel’s chairman. Appointed by the nation’s president, Melo recognized the urgent need to restore trust and credibility to the electoral process. While working to automate the balloting process, Melo sought a broader approach to reducing electoral violence. In conjunction with the police and army, Melo devised and implemented stricter rules regarding weapons and security personnel, and he organized a network of security centers that enforced the new rules. The May 2010 elections experienced less violence than the previous presidential and local elections in 2004, although questions arose over the susceptibility of the security forces to political coercion.
Michael Scharff drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Manila and Iloilo, Philippines, in March 2011.