THE Commission on Elections (Comelec)conducted “the best of the best” election last May 13. The praise predictably came from the Comelec head himself, Chairman Sixto Brilliantes. He could not wait for others to do it, so patted himself and the poll body on the back. But as the saying goes, “Praise undeserved is slander in disguise.”
Perhaps, Comelec did a yeoman’s job conducting the second automated election in the country. However, such praise is undeserved, with so unanswered questions about the election. Brilliantes continues to turn a deaf ear to criticisms, and there are lots of them from experts.
“Many PCOS machines either rejected ballots or failed to function at all. Some were used even without backup memory, some failed to transmit, and some had corrupted compact flash (CF) cards,” a special report by the Sunday Times quotes the Automated Election System (AES) Watch as saying.
The AES Watch even described the May 13 exercise as “worse than in 2010.”
Now, here comes this concern about the 60-30-10 ratio in the senatorial election. IT experts analyzing the election results noted a voting trend: 60 percent for Team PNoy, 30 percent for UNA, and 10 percent for the others. Sen. Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of Team PNoy, said the alleged manipulation would entail conspiring with all survey outfits for the last three months.
“Surveys of firms had always projected a 9-3, at worst an 8-4 and sometimes a 10-2, but it always consistently projected a victory by Team PNoy. Conspiracy manipulations are very ridiculous and do not serve a good purpose. It is very difficult to imagine that there is a nationwide manipulation,” he said at the Kapihan sa Senado last Thursday.
I agree with fellow columnist Giovanni Tapang, who’s more tech-savvy than me, that the only way to resolve these doubts is to go to the ballots themselves. Some candidates in Bataan who felt cheated by automation intend to do just that.
Former Rep. Tong Payumo, Nacionalista Party candidate for congressman in the first district of Bataan, said that losing candidates in Dinalupihan, Morong, and Orani want the Regional Trial Court to open the ballot boxes to determine if they votes they contain jibe with the announced results.
“Otherwise, suspicions that the results were pre-determined would linger,” he told me on the phone Wednesday.
There are grounds for such suspicions. Tong said the election results showed a “consistent pattern of 55 per cent and 45 per cent in Abucay, Morong and Orani and 60 per cent-40 per cent in Dinalupihan, Hermosa and Samal in favor of her opponent, reelectionist Rep. Herminia Roman.”
“I was informed that on the Bayes Theorem System, the chances of that pattern happening is only .003 per cent,” Tong said,. “But it did happen!” He also noted that the voter turnout in the district was 84 percent when previous turnouts were only 60 to 63 percent.
In Tong’s hometown (Dinalupihan), he got almost the same number of votes as his nephew, Mayor Joel Payumo, who ran for governor, although he was supported by the Iglesia ni Cristo and Joel wasn’t. What’s more questionable was that he lost in Dinalupihan by more than 10,000 votes and there was a complete shutout of the ticket of former Mayor Jojo Payumo in the entire town. Even when he ran unopposed for congressman and Jojo won by landslide, some local candidates of the rival ticket still managed to win.
“During the last days of the campaign, our rivals were silent. We thought they had already given up. It seems now that our opponents had something up their sleeves,” he said.
He said that if the ballot boxes would prove to be faithful to the transmitted results, he would gladly accept the findings and extend full cooperation to the proclaimed winners.
There are questions on the accuracy of the Comelec count. The failure to use read-only compact flash cards and delays in the transmission of results gave operators time to switch CF cards. Questions on statistically improbable counts could be answered only by examining the ballots. If the plea to examine the ballots and compare them with the announced results is ignored, I can see future candidates getting proclaimed because they pay operators to manipulate the result, not because they have the people’s mandate.
Erratum: In my last column, the phrase about former Sen. Migz Zubiri should have read “proud and unbending in honest defeat.”