Gibo’s check mark for 2022?

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2021 - 12:00am

One year after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) contagion reached our shores, the national government is still scrambling to roll out the vaccines to control the spread of the pandemic. Fortunately, the Filipino people have capably adapted on how to go about avoiding the deadly COVID-19 infection by strictly adhering to minimum health protocols while waiting for the government’s free vaccination program to get off the ground.

On the other hand, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has rolled out already its phase-by-phase preparations more than one year before the holding of the country’s next presidential and local elections in May 2022.

In fact, Comelec already announced that the filing of candidacies for all elective officials is set from Oct. 1 to 8 this year.

Among the potential and most probable candidates grooming themselves to join the national contest to succeed the outgoing administration of President Rodrigo Duterte are high-profile politicians. Most of them are incumbent elected officials in the 18th Congress, including certain local government unit (LGU) executives.

But there is one most noteworthy presidential timber but who has kept a low profile through these years. To obviously jog the memories of the Filipino voters, a teaser in social media has gone viral since it inauspiciously came out last week.

Updating a new cover photo for his Facebook account, former Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. emblazoned it with a green colored check mark over a white background and printed beside it the year 2022 and below it, the word “Share.” Political pundits and kibitzers immediately jumped on to Teodoro’s teaser. Since he updated the cover photo of Facebook account last Feb. 10 as #GIBO2022, it has already generated 1,200 “shares” and 6,600 “likes” in the past four days and growing.

In his latest post [ADMIN GTP2], Teodoro asked his Facebook followers: “Have you taken the #giboshirtchallenge?”

With still very limited social media following, the 56-year-old Teodoro’s possible comeback in the fields of politics will have a lot of grounds to catch up.

Teodoro was then on his third and last term as Congressman from the first district of Tarlac when ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recruited him to join her Cabinet in August 2007. It was his stint at the Department of National Defense that earned him so much public admiration, especially during national security crisis situation, not to mention man-made and natural calamity incidents as the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

With a sterling track record as a public servant, Teodoro was invited by President Duterte to rejoin the government service and to serve anew as Defense Secretary. He, however, politely declined the offer as he opted to stay in the private sector business. His wife, former Tarlac Congresswoman Monica Prieto-Teodoro instead became President Duterte’s special envoy to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

As then Davao City Mayor and acting as one of the advisers of Mrs. Arroyo’s Cabinet Cluster on national security and peace and order, President Duterte has worked closely with Teodoro. In fact, the Davao City Mayor helped Teodoro when he run as the administration-backed candidate under Arroyo’s Lakas-KAMPI-CMD party during the May 2010 presidential elections. As the “anointed” presidential bet, Teodoro’s “Galing at Talino” campaign vehicle, however, suffered from the downspin spiral of Mrs. Arroyo’s popularity.

Teodoro’s second cousin, former Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III who run under the Liberal Party-led opposition, won the May 2010 presidential elections. Teodoro placed fourth in the eight-man presidential race. Former president Joseph Estrada nearly made a successful comeback when he placed a close second to Aquino. Erstwhile Senate president Manny Villar from the Nacionalista Party (NP) came in third.

It was the first time the country shifted to the automated elections system using the precinct counting optical scanning (PCOS) machines in 2010. Thus, Aquino earned the title as the country’s first PCOS-elected president of the country. Although he did not file any election protest, Estrada could only pejoratively wisecrack his failed comeback bid: “I lost due to hocus-PCOS.”

However, massive complaints and protests by losing candidates on alleged human intervention to tamper with the PCOS machines poured at the Comelec. Despite volumes of election protests of the previous polls still pending and unresolved at the Comelec, the PCOS machines were again used in the mid-term elections in May 2013.

But given the bad public image of these Smartmatic machines, the Comelec decided to junk the use of PCOS and renamed them as vote counting machines (VCMs) for the 2016 presidential elections. It was then that the Davao City Mayor won the plurality votes of 38.5% in the five-man presidential race. The Comelec has since then continued with the use of VCMs in the national and local elections that followed.

As of this writing, the Comelec has yet to announce how many more VCMs will be procured in public bidding to augment their available units. Comelec publicly appealed last week to overseas Filipino to serve as “test voters” for the test-run of various internet voting solutions that may be adopted for country’s 2022 polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the present system of the Comelec, overseas voters are able to cast their votes either personally or by mail.

Comelec bared four internet voting solutions that will be showcased by different election system providers. The four companies to test-run their online voting systems, are namely: Dominion Voting Systems; Indra; Smartmatic International; and Voatz.

A smartphone capable of running Android or iOS apps, a laptop or personal computer, or any mobile device with internet/data access is required in order to participate in the test run.

The presidential race that includes “Galing at Talino” of Gibo Teodoro as among the candidates in the mock polls of the Comelec’s online voting system test-run will be worth watching.

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