THE nation’s electorate owes a million thanks to former Sen. Dick Gordon for his efforts to make sure that their votes in May will be correctly recorded through verifiable receipts printed by the vote counting machines.
The Commission on Elections had vigorously opposed Dick’s conscientious demand that it abide by the provision of the Automated Election System law for Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail. The poll body ignored this provision in the 2010 and 2013 elections. Well, Dick believed that enough is enough. It can’t continue to ignore the law and do as it pleases.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court sided with Dick. The Comelec even tried to blackmail the SC by saying compliance with the law would derail the May 9 election. Sorry, but this didn’t work. The SC voting 13-0 made its decision final last Thursday by rejecting Comelec’s appeal that it reconsider its earlier decision.
The operators who made a killing in the two previous elections must be cursing Dick for his persistence. They may curse and curse but the voters will be thanking Dick for ensuring that the proclaimed winners are really elected by them, not by machines that could be hacked and manipulated.
As explained by Dick who’s running for the Senate, the paper audit trail gives the voter the opportunity to verify if the candidates of his choice were the ones recorded by the machines.
“Several safeguards were put in place to ensure the sanctity of the ballot. Among these safeguards as the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail,” said Dick, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Suffrage and Revision of Laws, and author-sponsor of the Automated Election System law.
Incidentally, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay represented the Comelec before the High Tribunal. There’s nothing wrong with this because the SolGen is supposed to represent the government, and the Comelec is a constitutional body. Uh-huh, I see some inconsistency in this. It will be recalled that previously, Hilbay opposed before the SC the Comelec en banc’s unanimous decision disqualifying Sen. Grace Poejuangco from running for president. Isn’t the Comelec a government body? So why is the SolGen opposing its decision against Poejuangco? Ah, but not all every question needs an answer.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said they will comply with the SC decision on implementing the poll safeguard. At the same time, he echoed the warning of Smartmatic that about 20 percent of the vote counting machines could malfunction without a new source code. Smartmatic has won the bidding for the counting machines, just like it did in 2010 and 2013.
Bautista didn’t say this but by implication, it becomes clear that the source code supplied by Comelec was not configured to comply with the requirements of the law. Now, why did the poll body allow this? Elementary, dear Watson. Why do you think 60-30-10 in the 2013 senatorial election came about? Why do you think many supposed “winners” refused to allow the manual count of votes in protested elections if they really won fair and square?
The 2013 election in Dinalupihan, Bataan was Exhibit A on charges that the counting machines could be doctored and yet, the Comelec didn’t even bother to give it a deeper look.
Things look brighter now for the upcoming election, thanks to the valiant efforts of Dick Gordon. I hope the voters will know how to thank him appropriately.
Time for Senator Miriam to call it quits
I’m an avid fan of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. I always wish her well. It’s for these reasons that I beg of her to end her run for the presidency and look after her health first and foremost.
Her well-wishers can’t help but feel grave concern after she had decided against joining the presidential debate in Cebu City for health reasons. She had admitted suffering from Stage 4 lung cancer but claimed that she had been cured of this dreaded disease before announcing her candidacy for President. With this latest development, her friends and admirers shouldn’t be faulted for fearing a recurrence of her ailment.
Many, including me, and especially the youth, believe that Senator Miriam is among the best qualified to be President among the five candidates. We will continue to admire her and have her in our hearts even if she’ll end her quest for the presidency.