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Opinion

Philconsa: Return to manual voting

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

For tonight’s guest in our special presentation of our talk show “Straight from the Sky,” we are honored to have with us Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines his Excellency Ambassador Neil Reeder. Of all the foreign missions holding office in the Philippines, it is the Embassy of Canada that always makes a request to have its ambassador interviewed in our show and Ambassador Reeder is the 4th Canadian ambassador that I have interviewed and yes, he holds the distinction as the 770th guest on my 14-year-old talk show.

Few people know that Ambassador Reeder holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Saskatchewan and therefore understands the work of journalists. He was in Cebu last November 3rd to speak before my alma mater the University of San Jose-Recoletos and he talked about the long friendship between Canada and the Philippines and if you didn’t know, Canada was one of the first responders to the Bohol earthquake and the Yolanda disaster. So we have so much to thank Canada for.

Ambassador Reeder was also in Cebu to officially open the new office of Honorary Consul Katherine Rivera who took over from my dear friend, former honorary consul Robert Lee. So watch this very interesting talk with Ambassador Reeder on SkyCable’s channel 61 at 8:00 p.m. with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 on Monday at 9:00 p.m. and at 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. respectively on Wednesday and Friday.

***

By now many people are wondering why despite all the protestations against the continued use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS), the Commission on Elections  is having a “Damn-the-torpedoes” attitude and proceeding with the bidding for the new PCOS Machines. Because of the intransigent attitude of Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, many groups, including the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) have joined in that suit before the Supreme Court to stop the Comelec from making the same mistake all over again.

Pundits are already saying that the Comelec seems to be in a hurry to purchase those PCOS machines as a “pabaon” for Comelec chairman Brillantes, who is due to retire early next year. The word “pabaon” became popular when we learned that whenever army or police generals get to retire, they get some kind of fund, which was later dubbed “pabaon.”

Last Thursday, no less than the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) exhorted Congress to pass a law mandating the use of manual casting and counting of votes for the 2016 elections to ensure that it will reflect the true will or choice of the Filipino people. 

The Philconsa made this appeal because of doubts and legal challenges to the results of the 2010 and 2013 elections, which was automated using Precinct Count Optical Scan machines provided by the UK-based Smartmatic Automated Election Systems. Philconsa stated, “Those machines created unwavering and stubborn doubts that many of the proclaimed elected officials were the products of the toxic PCOS machines.”

Philconsa through former  justice  Manuel Lazaro added, “The [Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program] catastrophes are nothing compared with the irreparable damage caused by the toxins and pollutions inflicted by the use of PCOS machines,” It remains to be seen if Congress listens to the voice of Philconsa to level the playing field.

***

There’s a big presscon today sponsored by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in Manila in preparation for the 5th Year Anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre next week on November 23rd. This presscon will also include foreign journalists who have been covering this event from the time it broke into the international news headlines.

How sad that 28 years after the EDSA Revolution, where we fought the Marcos dictatorship with slogans like Justice for Aquino, Justice for All (JAJA), justice in this country is as elusive as ever! In Law School, we learned about that old legal dictum, which goes, “Justice delayed is Justice denied.” We have been harping on fixing our snail’s paced justice system for nearly 3 decades and nothing has been done to reform our Justice system.

Without any shred of doubt, I truly believe that justice has been denied the surviving families of the 58 victims of this dastardly and gruesome killing that has placed the Philippines the unenviable record of being the most dangerous nation next to Iraq for journalists. At least 34 amongst those killed were working journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon made that infamous statement that the Maguindanao Massacre was the single deadliest event for the media since 1992. Will it be on record as the longest trial seeking justice for journalists?

[email protected].

AMBASSADOR

AMBASSADOR REEDER

CANADA AND THE PHILIPPINES

CANADIAN AMBASSADOR

CEBU

COMELEC

EMBASSY OF CANADA

JUSTICE

PHILCONSA

PRECINCT COUNT OPTICAL SCAN

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