Although the authoritarian rule of Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986, the Philippines had only had three presidential elections since then, all marred by irregularities and violence. The 2010 election process was badly scarred by conflict. Filipinos were stunned by the heinous 23 November 2010 massacre of 57 unarmed people, many women and journalists, by members of the powerful Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province. The Arroyo administration proved wrong the widespread suspicion that the Ampatuans -- political allies of the President -- would escape accountability for this crime. Despite intense criticism from democracy activists, the President imposed martial law in portions of Maguindanao for eight days, during which the authorities arrested leading clan members and disarmed the Ampatuans' private army.
On 10 May 2010, the country conducted nationwide elections for president, both houses of congress, provincial governors, and local government officials. Every office in the Presidential line of succession was up for grabs in this nationwide vote, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was also set to retire amid haggling over whether President Arroyo has the right to appoint his successor. The recent inability of any political party or figure to duplicate the "people power" mass demonstrations of past years coincided with increasing professionalization of the military and police, institutions that seemed to have lost their appetite for direct involvement in the political process.
It was the country's first automated election, and voter turnout was high despite procedural problems that caused extensive polling delays. International and national observers viewed the election as generally free and fair, but there were incidents of violence and allegations of fraud in some areas. The Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded 180 election-related violent incidents resulting in the deaths of 55 persons between January 10 and June 9, 2010.
On May 10, 2010, national elections were held for the positions of President, Vice President, 12 Senators, all members of the House of Representatives and most local government posts. In the 2010 elections, Liberal Party Senator Benigno S. Aquino III (son of Ninoy and Corazon Aquino) won the presidency, campaigning against corruption and on a platform including job creation, provision of health care and education, and other domestic issues. Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, a member of the PDP-Laban party, won the vice presidency. The election was the first in the Philippines to feature nationwide use of automated ballot-scanners, and, despite uncertainty about the technical reliability of the machines in the run-up to the election, most opinion-shapers lauded the election process as among the best in the Philippines’ history, quickly producing results that were widely accepted as legitimate.
On June 30, 2010, Benigno S. Aquino III, the son of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino, assumed office as President of the Republic. Former Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay assumed office as Vice President of the Republic. President Aquino is a member of the Liberal Party, whose members currently hold four of the 24 seats in the Senate and 84 of the 286 seats in the House of Representatives (including seats allotted for sectoral or partylist representatives), which together constitute the 15th Congress of the Republic. Members of the Lakas-KAMPI CMD party of former President Arroyo currently hold three of the 24 seats in the Senate and 33 of the 286 seats in the House of Representatives (including seats allotted for sectoral or partylist representatives). On May 13, 2013, the next congressional election will be held in respect of 12 Senate seats and the full House of Representatives.
By 2014 Aquino had been under fire as one of the largest political scandals to rock the country played out. The administration canceled special lawmaker allocations after it was discovered that certain officials allegedly received kickbacks in a scheme that cycled the funds through bogus non-government agencies and returned the money to them. The president’s popularity had reached an all-time low this year. After having mostly polled above 60 percent since he took office in 2010, the numbers declined. Manila-based Pulse Asia found his approval rating dropped to 56 percent in June 2014 from 70 percent in March. One survey by Manila-based Social Weather Stations showed the lowest ratings, so far. The survey also taken in June 2014 showed his net satisfaction rating was down to 25 percent from 45 percent in March.
In many localities in the Philippines bitter dynastic rivalries sometimes end in stalemate or even violence, and hidebound local officials often believe that attracting investments -- whether from the PRC or elsewhere -- is a zero sum game at which the primary goal is not letting political opponents "win."
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