THE New York-based Council on Foreign Relations is one of the most respected sources of analyses of world events. One of its products is Asia Unbound. Under the Asia Unbound heading, knowledgeable and correct analyses of our part of the world come out. The bylines are usually those of Joshua Kurlantzick and Elizabeth Economy.
Mr. Kurlantzick’s article “The Year in Democracy in Southeast Asia,” posted on Tuesday December 8, is as usual correct—except for its failure to note the very glaring crimes against our electoral democracy being committed by the very body constitutionally tasked with supervising our electoral processes, the Commission on Elections.
Mr. Kurlantzick’s Asia Unbound blog “The Year in Democracy in Southeast Asia” begins with this unassailable paragraph:
“In the weeks since Myanmar’s national elections in November, the country’s potential as a democratic success story seems clearer and clearer. As I have noted, there are many remaining obstacles to Myanmar’s transition, including the continuing influence of the military in politics, the ongoing ethnic insurgencies, and the National League for Democracy’s inexperience in governing. Still, Myanmar’s free and fair elections, and the ruling party’s apparent willingness to step down, mark a major milestone for that country and surely are the high points for democracy in Southeast Asia in 2015.”
The second paragraph is what disappoints us:
“Unfortunately, the report card on democratic progress in the rest of Southeast Asia for this year is decidedly more mixed. The region’s four most democratic states—the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and Singapore—generally continued to demonstrate their political strengths. Singapore’s September elections delivered a massive win for the ruling party, and experts on Singaporean politics criticized the electoral framework for favoring the People’s Action Party. But during the campaign period there was extremely lively and informed political debate in the city-state—some of the most informed political debate one could see anywhere in the world. The first year of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s term was rocky, as he went back and forth on economic policy and foreign policy, but Jokowi has begun trying to strengthen Indonesia’s democratic fundamentals, such as by removing some of his ministers linked to the PDI-P machine and bringing on men and women with sterling reputations for fighting graft.”
The rest of the article rightly and correctly discusses problems of democracy in the other countries.
We object to the sentence “The region’s four most democratic states—the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and Singapore—generally continued to demonstrate their political strengths.” It might well indeed be true of Indonesia, East Timor and Singapore. But it is a blatant lie in the case of the Philippines.
Since the pilot testing of Smartmatic’s Automated Election System (AES) using the PCOS machines, through the 2010 and 2013 elections, and most likely in the national, presidential and local elections in May next year, the Comelec and Smartmatic have virtually thrashed our electoral democracy.
We have amply written about it. Information technology (IT) and AES (automated election system) experts—including a former Comelec Commissioner Mr. Gus Lagman—as well as leading political scientists and technicians who know automated election systems and our country’s election laws in depth, have deplored the lack of credibility, transparency, and the failures of the Smartmatic AES.
These failures include non-transmittal of a results from a large number of precincts, large enough to change the overall count. Smartmatic and Comelec also deliberately disabled the security mechanisms of the AES system and the PCOS machines. Ballots have been found stuffed inside the PCOS machines. Count totals have exceeded the number of voters. There is no expert overview of what Smartmatic, their machines and technicians are doing with the precinct-level counting process. There are so many other infractions making the election process and results doubtful.
It is sad that the perversion of our electoral democracy, despite our reports and complaints, has been kept unspoken by officials. It is more painfully sad that authoritative and pro-democracy bodies like the American CFR are helping to hide the destruction of Philippine democracy by our own Commission on Elections and its mysteriously untouchable and unsupervised technology provider Smartmatic.