Real motives

HIDDEN AGENDA (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2014 - 12:00am

It is just unfortunate that after what the country, and the Filipino people, have accomplished in terms of electoral reforms, there are still those who prefer to question the gains achieved by our shift to an automated election system.

Once more, the AES is being assaulted propaganda-wise by self-styled election reform advocates who would rather turn a blind eye to the fact that the implementation of the AES and the use of the 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines supplied by Smartmatic resulted in a clean, fair, and honest conduct of the 2010 and 2013 elections.

Through the automated system, we have avoided massive election irregularities, as well as harassment and election-related violence.

And because of such successes, the Comelec has enjoyed unprecedented approval ratings.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police have had less and less election-related troubles to deal with.

We all know that in a matter of a few hours, we already know, particularly in the local level, who the winners are. Most of the winning candidates have been declared a few days after the polls and very few electoral protests were filed after the 2010 and 2013 national and local elections. Even most losers accepted the results as valid.

The AES has also made life safer and easier for Board of Election Inspector members with the automated counting and canvassing.  

That is why it is baffling to hear that until now, there are people who would want this country to return to the manual style of elections, which is we already know, is prone to dagdag-bawas.

This leads us to question of the motives of these personalities. In cases of whodunit, investigators know that motive is the key.  

We only need to know who stand to benefit from a return to the manual system and voila! the pieces start to click neatly together. 

It is no secret that Gus Lagman, erstwhile Comelec commissioner and self-styled IT expert, has been hawking his questionable Open Election System (OES) for the longest time.

Lagman is consumed with bitterness that he doesn’t seem to realize or refuses to realize that the system he is proposing is illegal.  

Republic Act 9369 or the Election Automation Law explicitly states that the elections should be fully automated, thus its implementation in the May 2013 elections in which President Aquino won overwhelmingly.

But this crystal clear provision of the law does not seem to deter Lagman owing to huge, and I mean huge, encouragement from his big-time sponsors. 

Lest anyone be fooled, Lagman is not acting alone. What the Comelec and the unwary Filipino people are up against is a well-funded and well-orchestrated campaign to vilify the automated election system to force government to return to manual. 

The cabal that funds Lagman also funds other groups that have mushroomed to discredit the automated elections.  They go by the names  AESWatch, Tandem, CenPeg, etc.

Apart from their constant and consistent bellyaching in the media, Lagman and company have been wasting taxpayer’s money filing nuisance cases in the Supreme Court, which end up in the trash can anyway.

They were rebuffed by the Supreme Court in 2011, when the High Court declared with finality the constitutionality of the AES, denying the petition filed by lawyer Harry Roque.

In 2012, their propositions were again rejected when the SC upheld the legality of the Comelec’s purchase of the PCOS machines.  

Just recently, the Court struck down Kontra Daya’s petition to inhibit Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes and two other commissioners from participating in the resolution of election protests related to the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections.

In the High Court’s decision, it said that Kontra Daya’s petition is not only based on conjectures, but is also highly speculative and does not warrant the relief prayed for.

That’s three strikes. And they should be out.

 Yet, as a testament of this group’s inexhaustible source of wherewithal, the day after the SC junked the Kontra Daya petition, they filed another case before the Ombudsman against Comelec and Smartmatic officers  for allegedly “placing in grave peril the sanctity of the ballot” during the May 2010 and 2013 elections.

Most notably, one of the complainants is former Vice President of the Philippines Teofisto Guingona, who was also a petitioner in the second case junked by the SC in 2012.

In the interest of transparency, the public ought to know that the ex-VP is the brother of Joe Guingona, who is the president and CEO of Indra Philippines, a company which offers automated elections solutions. 

For comments, e-mail at philstarhiddenagenda@yahoo.com





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