Thursday, May 20, 2010

Random Thoughts on the Aftermath of the Elections By: James U. Sy Jr.

The election, and the tension produced by it, is finally over. Or is it?

The government agencies concerned have a feeling of satisfaction as the latest election has made history as the first ever automated exercise of democracy in our land. Many were skeptical about the automation but it did deliver as promised, or so it seemed. Generally speaking the automated election was a success because it delivered the results at a much faster rate, within two to three days for local officials at least. But sadly, in the days that followed everything slowed down and there was rampant irregularities and accusations of fraud.

There were several instances when the machines experienced technical problems of different natures. Some did not accept the ballots, hundreds malfunctioned and were not entirely used. Apparently, this new way of voting have added another G to the 3 Gs traditionally associated with Philippine elections (guns, goons, and gold) - Glitches.

It was said that the automated system would be free of fraud. Just a few days after it became apparent that Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino III will be the next president, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas, and Councilor J.C. de los Reyes, the three losing presidential candidates from the bottom, have filed protests of fraud in the elections on the basis of the PCOS machines found at the house of one of the technicians of Smartmatic.

And then masked whistleblower Robin “The Koala Bear” surfaced to expose a supposed fraud in the elections where millions of votes were taken from former President Joseph Estrada, former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, and Bro. Eddie Villanueva. Initial investigations showed that the data forwarded by the whistleblower does not tally with figures from the Comelec and other concerned agencies, which themselves tally or in the same plane. This might well be a black propaganda to taint the victory of Aquino. The pre-election surveys had always showed Aquino in the frontline.

Robin also alleged that Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay gave P1B for the cheating operation against Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who he said also gave some money but was not that much. Binay had denied the accusation.

Sen. Manny Villar, perceived as Sen. Aquino’s closest rival before the elections, was a gentleman to be the first to concede defeat to Aquino. He was followed by Teodoro, Villanueva, and Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon. De los Reyes did concede previously but has retracted the same and joined Madrigal and Perlas.

As a sidenote, Madrigal and Perlas may face a police probe for opening some of over 60 PCOS kept in a private home in Antipolo without authorization from the Comelec.

Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin blew his top and cursed during a hearing at the House of Representatives last May 20, 2010 when Smartmatic officials could not give a convincing explanation on the discrepancies of time stamps int he PCOS machines. Several loser candidates, among them former Bacolod Cong. Monico O. Puentebella, brought up the issue of the time stamp during the hearing.

The vice presidential race is a close fight, although as early as now Mayor Jejomar Binay is already celebrating victory and states that if Sen. Mar Roxas wins, there is fraud. Binay’s early lead was understandable as the Luzon votes came in early. The Visayas, Roxas’ stronghold, submitted their figures much later. Both camps have shown different figures but ultimately it will be Congress who will declare the winner.

It was reported that poll related violent incidents decresed by 44% compared to the 2007 elections. Not less than 2,722 violators of the gun ban were apprehended. The figures show improvements but the more important question is, were the major private armies disbanded? How many private armies in Mindanao had been neutralized? Obviously, from the several violent incidents that erupted in several places in the region, it can be seen that the various private armies are still at large. And in everybody's excitement of the election, the ampatuans had been forgotten.

Of course we have to give the AFP and PNP for a job well done but we shoudl also see that the election is not as peaceful as the government would have us believe. Many friends are no longer surprised of these incidents, citing that these has already become part of Philippine elections.

Vote buying, as usual, was present during the elections. In the local front, P200, P300, and P500 were given out. Some funds though did not reach the voting public.

In Negros Occidental, both Sen. Aquino and Sen. Mar Roxas made a clean sweep, with their votes being greater than those of all their rivals combined. Aquino got 129,094 as against the combined 68,778 of other candidates. Roxas led with 135,742 against the combined 56,231 of other VP bets. Mayor Binay had 44,505.

Aquino and Roxas also duplicated this feat with absentee voters in states where the Philippine Embassy had jurisdiction. Of the 1,723 absentee ballots, 981 went to Aquino. Roxas had 1,088.

Four Visayans topped the senatorial race in Negros Occidental. Sen. Franklin M. Drilon (131,243), Miriam Santiago-Defensor from Iloilo City (119,440), Sen. Sergio Osmeña (98,3212), were at the top 3 spots. The other Visayan who Negrosanons voted for was Alex Lacson of Kabankalan (75,763).

Elected officials in the local polls also made history, Dr. Anthony Golez as the youngest congressman of bacolod at 37, Mayor Evelio "Bing" R. Leonardia as the first 3-termer mayor of Bacolod, and Vice Mayor Jun Thaddeus Sayson as the first reelected vice mayor of the City of Smiles.

Now that boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has been proclaimed as congressman of Sarangani, it is time for him to show the public what he is capable of doing in the political arena as everybody would remember him saying, "Ang iba diyan laban ng laban sa salita, wala pa namang nagagawa" in reference to Sen. Aquino. But Pacquiao might have a future in politics. He, together with his wife, had just made a visit to President-apparent Noynoy Aquino.

Aquino may well be keeping true to his promise to the public. He had publicly renounced the highly controversial appointment by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of her former chief of staff, Senior Associate Justice Renato Corona, as the next chief justice. Malacañang spokespersons defended the appointment although many consider it as a “midnight” appointment. The Palace spokespeople even hinted that Aquino will need the help of GMA, who is now in Congress.

It is interesting to note that the appointment was made a day after Aquino vowed to prosecute GMA for corruption and other anomalies within 100 days of assuming the presidency.

While Aquino will take office as the first bachelor president of the republic, GMA will go down in history as the first president of the Philippines to be assuming a lower government position after her term. Even before GMA steps down as president, public satisfaction rating of her was an all-time low of -53, the lowest achieved by a Philippine president since 1986 according to the a survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Public opinion is that GMA is setting up security parameters for herself before she vacates the presidency as it is expected that many will go after her with cases of corruption. Aquino himself had expressed that he will pursue an investigation of the cases that GMA has been accused of. A survey by Pulse Asia showed that rearly 6 of every 10 Filipinos or 59 percent disapprove of GMAs performance.

But then GMA had appointed 14 of the justices in the Supreme Court and also Corona. In Congress, GMA has many allies as well. Some say that GMA is eyeing the Speakership so from there she can continue her vision of cha-cha. It would be a tough fight for Aquino and the Filipino people will be watching.

At this point, although Aquino will clearly become president, the fight is only beginning. He will surely be met by tough opposition from the GMA block but if the Filipino people become vigilant, as they did in the elections, all hope is not yet lost. The election was just the start of a new hope, after it is the real work to make the dream a reality.

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