I don’t know who President Duterte’s source was about the cost of amending the Constitution through a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con), but I was so shocked when I read a newspaper broadsheet quoting him that he does not want Con-Con because it would cost the country some P200-300 billion. I initially thought it was a typo error, but that figure was mentioned again in the same article.
Indeed, it is easy to make the wrong decision if the basis for such decision were itself wrong.
It was only a week ago when I checked with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) its estimate of that cost and the figure I got was P8 billion. It could even cost much less if the election for delegates were to be synchronized with the Barangay (Bgy) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election that is scheduled sometime in October, 2016.
It truly would make a lot of sense to time it with the Bgy/SK elections because then, Comelec would only have to deal with the incremental cost. That cost should not be too far from P2-3 billion, or just one percent of the President’s estimate.
October this year may be too soon to hold the Con-Con election of delegates, but it should not be a problem postponing the Bgy/SK elections. The Comelec has done that many times in the past.
There are many advantages in amending the Constitution via Con-Con. Perhaps the most important advantage is that Filipinos can be better assured of an independent-minded group debating the amendments, rather than a group of politicians with vested interests. A glaring proof is that after almost thirty years, Congress has still not enacted an anti-dynasty enabling law, despite its being provided for in the 1987 Constitution. The simple explanation is that that would be against their personal interest.
The work will also not distract the legislators from performing their regular task of enacting specific laws.
Con-Con can draw out legal and technical experts who would otherwise not run for any government office, either because of the long-term commitment it requires, or simply, an aversion to political positions. We can therefore expect a more pro-Pinoy Constitution.
Having been elected directly by the people in a non-partisan election, Con-Con delegates will not be under the influence of politicians and political parties. Maybe not even Malacañang, as it should be.
So … time it with the Bgy/SK election. And, as in the past, let’s use a manual system. Or try out the hybrid system, even if only in selected areas.
The one thing we should not do –should never do– from hereon is use Smartmatic’s PCOS/VCM system.
In all three elections – 2010, 2013,2016 – it had been proven that Smartmatic’s system was NOT accurate and it was NOT transparent. It was only fast, but that’s the least important among the three system features mentioned in the automation law.
In addition, Smartmatic was not compliant with the bid specifications and the provisions of R.A. 9369. It also violated Comelec rules. It employed secret servers (Marlon Garcia, a Smartmatic technical person, admitted this) and tampered with the data while the election process was already in full swing (this unfortunate incident was reported by almost all of the newspapers).
It may be difficult to prove, but many IT practitioners strongly suspect that manipulation of the results also transpired in all the three electoral exercises. Only the landslide victories of former President Benigno Aquino III and incumbent President Rodolfo Duterte cannot be doubted.
As such, it would be the height of naiveté to continue dealing with this service provider. It is the duty of the Comelec to start looking for alternatives as early as NOW!
No to Con-Ass; No to Smartmatic’s PCOS/VCM!