Local election in Philippines settled by a coin toss

Luis Liwang/AFP/Getty Images The electoral seat of Bontoc (175 miles north of Manila) was decided by the toss of a coin in yesterday’s local election in the Philippines. The two candidates, Byran Byrd Bellang and Benjamin Ngeteg, received exactly the same number of votes for the last of eight council seats. The election supervisor asked ...

Luis Liwang/AFP/Getty Images

The electoral seat of Bontoc (175 miles north of Manila) was decided by the toss of a coin in yesterday's local election in the Philippines. The two candidates, Byran Byrd Bellang and Benjamin Ngeteg, received exactly the same number of votes for the last of eight council seats. The election supervisor asked the candidates if the wanted to break the tie by tossing a coin or drawing lots, both permitted under the local election rules. They chose a coin toss. Bellang opted for heads and won, and the two men sealed the outcome with a handshake. Dennis Dimalnat, a provincial elections supervisor, said that the two candidates set a refreshing example:

I hope others would see the beauty of this kind of peaceful resolution."

Luis Liwang/AFP/Getty Images

The electoral seat of Bontoc (175 miles north of Manila) was decided by the toss of a coin in yesterday’s local election in the Philippines. The two candidates, Byran Byrd Bellang and Benjamin Ngeteg, received exactly the same number of votes for the last of eight council seats. The election supervisor asked the candidates if the wanted to break the tie by tossing a coin or drawing lots, both permitted under the local election rules. They chose a coin toss. Bellang opted for heads and won, and the two men sealed the outcome with a handshake. Dennis Dimalnat, a provincial elections supervisor, said that the two candidates set a refreshing example:

I hope others would see the beauty of this kind of peaceful resolution.”

He may have a point. The Philippines is notorious for electoral violence. So much so, in fact, that the recent elections on May 14 were praised for being “generally peaceful“; a mere 121 were killed this year compared to the 189 dead in 2004. But the outcome of both elections remains the same: Gloria Arroyo once again looks in good shape to hold onto her country’s top position—without the aid of a coin, though possibly with the aid of some other, less fair, tactics.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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