“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

Winners and Losers

Points to Ponder

Atty. Ceferino Baquilod

Congratulations to all the winners in the just concluded midterm elections.  All your efforts paid off and that calls for a celebration. Wiinners to me only prove one thing: they outdid their opponents in all aspects of the election process, from planning, to campaigning and most importantly in strategies that ensured their victory. They did whatever it took to win, be it legal or otherwise. Most times the latter becomes the ultimate game changer. It goes without saying however that winners are not necessarily the most competent or qualified for the post sought for. It only means they had more votes counted.  Yes these days, candidates do not need to possess outstanding credentials. What they need is the capacity to win ‘by hook or by crook’. Since elections have been seen, specially in the recent past, as among the dirtiest of all games, an important unwritten qualification a candidate must have is his ability to play dirty… dirtier than his opponents. Really honest and sincere candidates have become a figment of our imagination. Sad but true.

Be that as it may, we still hope and pray that these winners will do the best they can to serve us faithfully and sincerely like a true public servant. This I say, even though we know and they have admitted publicly that they have no clue on what to do with the job they just got into. Scary but this is reality.

To all who lost in their bid for political posts, we say, ‘better luck next time’.  Acceptance they say will ease the pain. Some losers may still be in denial and find it really difficult to accept their defeat. Some of them will accept it, believing it is their fate. They prefer to suffer quitely. Still others will defy and be vocal about it, citing irregularities but will not file a complaint for various reasons, i.e., too tired, too expensive, or too difficult to win. This is a fact of life for politicians. The really callous politicians take advantage of this reality. No amount of election protests will faze these thick faced politicians because they how our justice system works and how long cases remain pending.

Election Protests

As in the past, formalized election protests normally remain pending for years. At times the case is not finally decided until the respondent’s term is over or almost over. In the former, the case becomes moot and academic. In the latter, the winner is denied the opportunity to effectively serve the constituents and/or enjoy the position because the term is virtually done and gone. With the current administration, a lot of people think it might be impractical or impossible to win an election protest case, in view of their lack of trust and faith in the Comelec.  In recent past, Comelec’s reputation had  not been positive at all. Comelec’s head before the current one, was far from ideal as a public servant,  because of various allegations of corruption hurled against him which resulted in his being the subject of legislative inquiry proceedings. According to some oberservers, our current Comelec may even be worse than its predecessors in the light of what transpired recently, i.e., the suspicious delay for 7-8 hours in the electronic transmissions of the election results after its initial transmission, the presence of ‘meet me room’ servers, the interception of voting data, etc. Additionally, NAMFREL, a long time poll watchdog, decided not to participate as member of the committee tasked to audit votes in the elections on May 13 because Comelec would not give it access to its main data server. Namfrel said without that access, it would not be able to ‘test the verifiability of the separately provided precint counts against subsequent transmissions and aggregations.’ Simply stated Namfrel would not be able to fully function as a poll watchdog if in the first place, Comelec does allow it to access and verify its data. Hence it opted not to be part of the committee earlier mentioned. 

People Have Spoken, Really?

Because of supervening events that occurred during and right after election, others believe that the results of the election have been tainted with serious clouds of doubt. They believe that the results do not truly reflect the will of the people. We all know based on confirmed news reports, that on election day, too many voting machines malfunctioned.Similarly too many SD cards were corrupted. On top of these, there were alleged interceptions of voting data by undeclared ‘meet me room’ servers. Moreover, what was too dubious and abnormal was the 7-8 hours of delay in the transmission of election results.

Social media, specially Facebook was flooded with postings of illegal activities like pre-shading of ballots and rampant vote buying which was admittedly prevalent everywhere. Also posted were videos and pictures of voters complaining why their voting receipts magically showed names of candidates they did not vote for.  

Whether or not these postings and information above are fake news, they nonetheless add to the doubt cast in the minds of people. Vote buying, as the most pervasive among illegal election activities, became hot topic when the President said that it is an ‘integral part’ of elections in this country. He further proceeded to say  ‘take cash for fare’, clearly encouraging vote buying and selling despite their being against the law. While Duterte encouraged voters  to buy and sell votes, PNP apprehended the players, pursuant to their legal mandate. What a joke. Add to this Sara Duterte’s statement to the effect that honesty is not required and has no place in elections and you have the perfect formula for a truly dishonest election process.  How can we expect to know the real sentiments of the people under these circumstances? People have spoken but their voice was not heard.

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