COLUMN:  ELECTION  NOTES

MANILA,
May 10, 2004  (STAR) A law each day (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison  -  Suddenly "E-Day" is upon us. No doubt, this is the day most anxiously awaited by both the electorate and the candidates.

To the 43 million voters, today is most welcome indeed for it ushers a return to "normalcy" in their lives. There is always a feeling of exhilaration at the end of an ordeal. Ninety days seems too long to be subjected to tortuous political bombardments by persons of different persuasions, characters, status, shapes, and sizes all expressing their "sincere" and "honest" desire to serve in various capacities from councilor all the way up to president of the country. The faces of relief are evident on Filipinos from all walks of life because their environment will once more be cleared of the suffocating pollution caused by so much dirt thrown around by the politicians in their campaign rhetoric and propaganda materials strewn, posted and pasted all over the place. Those expensive campaign posters littering our streets and practically covering our skies undoubtedly cost a fortune that would have built a lot of badly needed schoolhouses and homes for the poor. What was once an amusing and enjoyable political "fiesta" has become a boring and bizarre entertainment.

As for the aspirants, today is judgment day. To the losers who expected to win, it is a rude awakening although a lot of them refuse to accept the reality of defeat as they stubbornly cling to the possibility of having been cheated. To the winners this is a time to celebrate and count the expected large bonanzas coming their way unmindful of the awesome and enormous problems awaiting them in the positions they so avidly coveted.

If the surveys hold true, as there are really no indications they will not, the biggest blunder of the opposition who desperately wants to be "in" again especially the dirty old "trapos" identified with regimes previously deposed and discredited by people power, is to underestimate the votersí intelligence. They scornfully persisted in foisting before the electorate a presidential candidate who is immensely popular but whose personal competence and ability to run a government remain an enigma. Undeniably, the man they convinced to run is a good man, but is he prepared to personally tackle the job? This is the unanswered question up to voting time. Once more, our elections have been reduced into a popularity contest rather than a qualification contest. Who knows, the opposition might have succeeded in their bid to regain power had they fielded any of the three other candidates who have presented concrete platforms and better credentials in the art of governance. Certainly, it is for the better interest of the country if the choice boils down to the most qualified rather than the most popular.

A plus factor for the election surveys of the reputable pollsters has surfaced in this election. Amidst reports of planned electoral fraud and cheating, the survey results can easily pinpoint the cheaters. Any cheating will most probably be done by the "losers" in the election surveys. There is no reason for those who "won" in the surveys to still resort to cheating.

The continuous reports on cheating however are clear signs of un-preparedness on the part of the Comelec. Its failure to prevent the loss of some ballot boxes (even though they were subsequently retrieved) certainly does not inspire confidence that it is up to its task. Even its planned "unofficial" quick count has not been properly handled. Such quick count, which seems to be technically reliable, is obviously more for internal use. It main purpose is to alert the Comelec to possible tampering in case of discrepancy with the official results submitted very much later. So the Comelec need not publish its results, as it has publicly announced. Publishing it really tends to confuse voters. It even creates a suspicion of an intention to "extrapolate" the winners.

But more serious and damaging to the electoral process is the inaction of the Comelec on matters and issues urgently requiring resolution long before election day. It deprives citizens of their right to vote and be voted for. The accuracy and completeness of the votersí lists remain questionable. In the party-list elections, organizations registered and qualified in the last elections have been disqualified to participate in the coming elections. Some petitions of these groups to participate have not been acted upon. ABAYPAMILYA, a registered party list group in the last elections but disqualified in this elections, was allowed by the Supreme Court to participate. Yet Comelec included ABAYPAMILYA in the official list only a few days before the elections raising the strong possibility that the votes for ABAYPAMILYA may not be properly counted. The truly marginalized sectors remain marginalized and un-represented due in large part to Comelec inaction or delay.

If doubts linger in peoplesí minds on the reliability and credibility of our elections, the very Constitutional body tasked with assuring honest, orderly and peaceful elections shares much of the blame.

E-mail: jcson@info.com.ph


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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