MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/19 May) — That the automation of the May 10, 2010 elections succeeded despite some glitches is one thing Filipinos should thank for. It has made the likes of former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano irrelevant, aside from making jobless many lawyers who in past elections earned windfalls from the avalanche of protests from losing candidates. This is not to say that automation is 100-percent foolproof. Still, it is light years ahead compared to the manual system.
Consider: In less than 72 hours after results started to be transmitted to the central server Nacionalista Party standard bearer Sen. Manuel Villar conceded to Liberal Party bet Sen. Benigno Aquino III. But not ousted president Joseph Estrada, Sen. Jamby Madrigal and other candidates who continue to harbor illusions the voters wanted them to win. Estrada himself has cried “hocus PCOS,” a jibe at the precinct count optical scan machines. But the convicted plunderer’s phony claims aside, concession has never been this fast and sportsmanlike despite the campaign’s becoming a war of attrition.
Another remarkable feat is the proclamation of nine winning senatorial candidates in less than a week and that of the remaining three winners eight days after Election Day. Winners for local positions were also proclaimed fast and, except for sore losers like the Pinol brothers of Cotabato, the unsuccessful candidates were left with no choice but to accept defeat in the face of the automated system’s relative efficiency.
Frankly, I myself had entertained doubts as to the outcome of the first ever automation of general elections. It’s a normal reaction to the warnings issued by IT experts and to the significant delays in preparations on the part of the Commission on Elections. Admittedly, if one cared to read between the lines, the fears were abetted by the general distrust in the Comelec and developments tending to show that the outgoing administration was cooking up either a failure of elections or a no-el (no elections) scenario to perpetuate Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in power. That none of these scenarios took place is largely due to the Filipino people’s vigilance however and should not be interpreted as an awakening on the part of the sitting president.
But what do we make of the claims of a masked “whistle blower” that the vote was rigged to favor presidential frontrunner Aquino and vice presidential pacesetter Jejomar Binay? Everybody loves to listen to conspiracy tales. The masked man’s statements will remain suspect until and unless he presents concrete evidence that electronic cheating did take place on the scale alleged. And he himself should reveal his identity to establish his credibility, if any, as a witness and to determine if he has no motives other than rectifying a purported anomaly.
His allegations don’t fall on the right side of logic. As implied, why would Aquino, a consistent leader in all the pre-election surveys, resort to dirty tactics assuming it was that easy to hack into the system? Granting it was easy to manipulate the transmission of results, the administration, given its power and resources, could have resorted to it to favor its anointed candidates. (Don’t get me wrong, I did not vote for Aquino.)
If, indeed, several millions of votes were shaved from Estrada, Gilbert Teodoro and other candidates and added to Aquino, the implication is that the surveys were also manipulated to suit the desired outcome of the election. That now drags the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia as accomplices in a supposed scheme to condition the public of an impending Aquino victory.
SWS and Pulse Asia can also be accused of manufacturing the surveys that showed Binay overtaking Sen. Loren Legarda and catching up with Sen. Manuel Roxas III to match the allegedly rigged results of the race for vice president.
I sense a conspiracy here. It’s not the conspiracy that the masked man would have us believe. His dubious tale is the tip of the proverbial ice berg of an incipient plot to discredit, if not destabilize, the incoming administration by creating doubts on its legitimacy, the way the ghosts of the “Hello, Garci” controversy haunted Arroyo. The ultimate goal is to make Aquino inherit Arroyo’s legitimacy problem as leverage perhaps for his political opponents.
Will the plot succeed? Let’s wait till the masked man shows his face. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com)