|Official seal of the Philippine Senate today|
The official website of the Senate say that
the Latin words in the seal meant:
"Law Serves Peace, Let It Be Done"
Maybe the Department of Tourism can also add this to their list of fun things in the country - Senate elections: More Fun in the Philippines.
Anyway, tackling the question historically, we cannot trace this practice of at-large voting to the United States, because even if the supposed gift of democracy came from the American nation, they vote their senators by state. Spain voted their senators by province. So, we can assume that this method of senate election in the Philippines is not influenced by the foreign powers that invaded us (Japan had no Senate. When they invaded the Philippines during World War II, the Japanese abolished the Senate and created a National Assembly). Is this a local invention, then?
When we first had Senate (under American occupation) in 1916, the Philippines was divided into 12 senatorial districts with two senators each. One seat had a six-year term, while the other a three-year term. This kind of system saw the first and only Kiram in Senate, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram I, in 1925. Maybe his infamous (of course, for his critics) descendant wanted to follow his example, thus the 2007 candidacy of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. National elections for senators began in 1941, shortly before the Japanese invasion.
|Image of Sultan title claimant Jamalul|
Courtesy of Manila Bulletin and
Yahoo News Philippines
I believe that this is also a reason why Muslims in Mindanao wanted the Bangsamoro political entity to push through. There, they can consolidate more power than they can in the present system (e.g. they can levy taxes, and have a separate election and government system). Maybe the Luzon-Visayas alliance discriminated Muslim Mindanao for far too long (actually, even before the Spanish era, though Luzon and Visayas did not yet see themselves as allies until the Spanish era. Still, that will be a different story).
Its just my own theory anyway.
I must admit to myself though that I have some fear on returning the Senate into regional than national, despite the recent trending topic I am Muslim, I am not a terrorist. But maybe the Luzon-Visayas alliance can still turn it to their favor by making the number of Senate seats proportional to population. Still, I feel that any developments is still far away.
What can I say today then? Vote wisely, discern thoroughly, fellow Filipinos! Go out and vote on May 13, 2013. Remember, elections show the peak of the people's power in the country.
|Philippine senatorial election results from 1946|
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons