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Opinion

Denial

FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

Psychologists tell us that grief progresses through several stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression then acceptance.

We understand the grief being suffered by supporters of losing candidates. The grief appears most intense among those lulled into believing unscientific claims about the possible electoral outcome, including substituting Google Trends for systematic opinion polling. They were misled and the reality of the actual count hit them doubly hard.

The pain, it seems, was magnified by the speed with which the precinct-level results were delivered. Comelec’s upgraded Transparency Server worked without a hitch this time. We knew the outcome the night of the vote.

In the past we all complained about the slow pace of processing the results. There was a time, in the bad old days of manual counting, that the nation was kept on edge for weeks without knowing who won. In the interim, so much mischief could happen.

This time around, the count was lightning fast. Supporters of losing candidates suggest the count was too fast and they were quick to describe this as evidence of fraud. The correct word to describe the speed is “automation.”

These days, no one cries “fraud!” when our emails are sent in a fraction of a second.

One silly conspiracy theory being circulated the past few days concerns the constant distribution of the vote as the quick count progressed. We do not need a sophisticated statistician to explain this. The count is cumulative. Therefore the trend is reinforced. Even the pinkest of the pink should be able to understand that.

The very morning after the vote, the leftist groups were in the streets denouncing the “dirtiest” election ever. In actuality, notwithstanding a few glitches and a sprinkling of election-related violence, this is the best-managed election we have had.

Nothing animates the hard left than a sliver of a possibility an insurrection could happen. It was that ideological fixation, not the facts on the ground, causing the spurts of street protests Tuesday. If facts could kill, these leftists would all be dead.

Take a hard look at the numbers. A total of 107,000 vote-counting machines (VCMs) performed flawlessly last Monday. About 200 suffered glitches in one form or another. Some were repaired onsite while a few others needed replacement. In a few isolated cases, the replacements took time and produced small spectacles of voters sitting for hours in polling places.

Opposition media feasted on these small spectacles. There was no news, after all, in the routine voting that happened in nearly all the precincts.

The 200 VCMs that suffered glitches constituted 0.0018 percent of the total machines used in our automated polls. Nearly all were old machines, used since 2010. In an automated system that employs over 107,000 machines, the number of glitches that happened is more than tolerable.

The weather was fine the day voting was held. No COVID-19 outbreaks were reported. No brownouts happened. As a result, over 80 percent of our voters turned out to vote. We have among the highest turnout rates among nations where failure to vote is not penalized.

The speed and efficiency of the automated counting process improved with every electoral round since we adopted this system. Our voters appreciate this. There will be no constituency for a return to the bad old days when ballot boxes were snatched and canvassing sheets were altered in transit. No one wants to go back to typewriters when word processors are even cheaper.

We will probably buy better machines for future elections; but we will never go back to manual tabulation of the votes.

The quality of election administration combined with the massive lead of the frontrunners convinced the world of the validity of the outcome. By Thursday, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping formally congratulated the presumptive new president and vice president.

Most of the other aspirants have readily conceded. The electoral landslide is pretty obvious. Only the Pinks seem to have difficulty reconciling with the facts. They seem trapped in the first stage of grief: denial.

Through the last campaign, I imposed on myself the task of lurking in the Pink chat groups to understand what is going on. This self-imposed task has been, believe me, a great test of patience. The chatter was mostly hateful, condescending, petty and ignorant.

This much can be said after all the patient listening: their echo chamber brought them into a separate reality. They honestly believe those who do not share their political preferences were misinformed, uninformed or corrupted. They honestly believe there is a conspiracy of evil out there. They see nothing wrong in invoking God’s name in their self-appointed mission to uplift the “values” of the masses.

It will do the nation well if they invest some time assessing their own (democratic) values. The people have spoken. Their voice deserves respect.

On Friday the 13th, Robredo supporters held a rally at (where else?) the Ateneo campus where the Jesuits were so thoroughly invested in her lost cause. The theme chosen for that rally is “Tayo ang Liwanag” (We are the Light). This totally captures the narcissism of this political camp.

This narcissism explains why, even when it has become impossible to deny the numbers, they will continue in their attempt to invalidate the voice of the people. They will continue behaving like mullahs in our midst: the only ones entitled to define what is moral and what is true.

They have become the corrosive anti-democratic streak in our politics.

PSYCHOLOGISTS

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