TWO AESes are poised to damage our country forever.
One is the “Automated Election System” that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) bought for billions of pesos from the Venezuelan businessmen who own Smartmatic. This Smartmatic AES–with its use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines–caused us to have opaque, un-transparent ballot counting in our precincts in the 2010 and 2013 elections.
With the PCOS machines no one can prove that his vote was not counted correctly or even not counted at all. The Smartmatic AES cum PCOS machines system was carried out illegally in the last two polls. The Comelec did not and the system could not comply with the provisions of the law on automated elections. For instance, the precinct count results, made in the bowels of the PCOS machines without passing any form of either machine or human verification, were transmitted to the municipal canvassing centers without being signed by the teachers forming the Board of Election Inspectors.
That the PCOS machines are an instrument of fraud is immediately proved by the fact that there were precincts that the PCOS results showed with impossible counts.
But at this writing, the Comelec commissioners have shown no interest in junking the proved-to-be error-prone PCOS machines. We Filipinos are chained by the Comelec to Smartmatic and its PCOS machines which can ignore the true will of the citizen-voters and dictate who are to become our “elected” leaders and lawmakers.
The Asean AES
The other AES is the Asean Economic Summit, organized by the Financial Times. It was originally scheduled to be held in Bangkok last March and because of problems there has been rescheduled to November 12 in Singapore.
It is not actually the FT AES that could prove to be as injurious as the PCOS machines to our development but the most likely decision that the summiteers will reach. This is to go ahead, carry on with the implementation Asean Economic Integration after the end of 2015.
The birth of another solid economic bloc of countries, similar to the European Economic Community, will be a boon to the world economy. Suddenly all the 10 countries that are members of Asean will become a single market, doing free trade with each other as if each separate country were just a province of the Asean unity.
There will be no more tariff or any kind of protection for the weaker states. The weak sectors in these weak states in Asean will be most particularly hit.
The economically stronger countries–within Asean and outside–will surely benefit. They will be able to sell more efficiently, market their products and services more cheaply and effectively, to the countries of an integrated Asean. But weak and incompletely developed nations like the Philippines will suffer.
Labor and industrial relations expert Dr. Rene Ofreneo of the University of the Philippines worries that our country is not yet ready for the impact of Asean integration.
Speaking recently at a forum in Davao City, he reminded the audience that ours is an unequal economy suffering from imbalance. Our wealth and apparent strength come largely from a large Business Process Outsourcing industry and the ever increasing remittances from overseas Filipino workers. Meanwhile our manufacturing is weak and ours is a severely damaged agriculture sector.
With Asean economic integration Philippine-made manufactured products will not be able to compete with the cheaper products from the more efficient and industrially stronger Asean countries. Before long our industries will die. Our agriculture will also not be able to complete with the lower prices of produce from our neighbors.
Dr. Ofreneo said we need to “rebalance” our economy fast. Our present economy is not sustainable. The agricultural sector has to develop and grow so that Philippine produce will at least be affordable to Filipino consumers. And our manufacturing must match the efficiency of those of our neighbors.
Some quarters in Malaysia have also expressed fears about the effect on them of Asean economic integration.
Can our government and our private sector business leaders delay the birth of the integrated Asean economy until we have become stronger than we are now?