ADVOCACY MINDANOW: Old-fashioned counting better

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 May) — If you ask me, I still prefer the manual, old-fashioned counting of ballots for the local positions. The credibility of the local count with machines giving the results, however accurate –and fast they may be — remain questionable to the supporters and the voters, simply because they do not know and understand how it really works.

Moreover, there are still unsettled issues about the PCOS machines that must be addressed later.

NO TO MACHINES — Elections, as we ordinarily know, are meant to give a credible mandate for those who will govern us. To me, there is no substitute to opening those filled ballots and physically looking at the entries there one ballot after another when the count is being done. I like to return to the “slash” “kahon” count that was on the board for all to see and watch. It may be slow but that does not matter. Pardon me, but I do not trust machines. The thrill of a count, vote per vote, is lost and no longer there.

Pressing a button and getting the sum total is so impersonal and mechanical. It may be fast. But the human elements and personal touch are all lost. I recall seeing local supporters who stayed vigil at the voting centers to watch the counting only to later complain that it was so fast they didn’t notice how it happened.

I have gone through an election myself. And I tell you, I would not at all submit to this unverifiable and uncertain process of allowing a machine, whose system and function I cannot fully and clearly understand, to decide whether I win or lose.

I dunno about you. But if you ask me: NO WAY!

TIME TO RETIRE — COMELEC Chair Sixto Brillantes should be credited for some major initiatives in the elections. He had been bull headed and pushed for his own road map, against all odds. And he firmly stood his ground. But he has also been “cutting corners”. For instance, he proclaimed all the winning senators without waiting for a final tally. He threatened the nation of a resignation just before the elections to protest the reversals he suffered in the Supreme Court, only to change his mind at the last minute. He reportedly partook of the bounties of the so-called intelligence fund together with his commissioners, as disclosed by retired Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman himself who promptly returned the P1 million allocation intended for him when he was asked to affix his signature to a “certification” of expenses without properly liquidating with supporting paper. Under his watch, the COMELEC even did not comply with the requirement of a prior verification of the PCOS source codes.

I think it’s time to retire, Mr Chair. Before you commit another blunder. You already gave it your best shot.

CREDIT TO PNOY — I have been moving around Mindanao by road. And I can tell you that the highway improvement projects in many areas nowadays have been noticeable and impressive. Credit must go to the fiscal reforms of the Aquino administration under President Pnoy.

I talked with a contractor friend who told me that infra project costs have been considerably slashed “to the bone” by DPWH (Congrats to Secretary Singson.) Hence budgetary allocations go a long way. To some extent, big contractors who no longer get big windfalls or profits from government infra projects have no choice but to grab available projects even how low the margins are, just so they have some cash flow to amortize and maintain equipment and manpower. Better doing some work than remain idle.

ON THE “TAKE ” —The problem is: in spite of the reforms, the “take” of some officials remain. Some congressmen and officials my source told me, still expect some “SOPs”. I was told the contractor had to haggle for some reduction to stay “alive and viable”. He said this malaise is endemic. It’s in the system. No wonder people go to great lengths to get into positions of power.