WHOSE fault is the absurd appointment of a council for responsible voting to the sensitive task of conducting an unofficial count of the votes?
Do we blame the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for not discerning what the name of PPCRV truly signifies and that its attention is on voting, not on vote tabulation?
Or do we blame the oddly-named Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) for misrepresenting itself as a vote counting operation? And for lobbying repeatedly to be the Comelec’s chosen one?
Lastly, does the addition of the word “pastoral” in PPCRV’s name signify rural life or rustic pleasures? For a country of 100 million people (54 million voters), and in this day and age, a pastoral operation is hardly the way to go in conducting an election vote count.
But of course, “pastoral” here means it is an arm of the Roman Catholic Church parishes, each of which has a “pastoral council,” the pastoral not connoting meadows and sheep but the priest-pastor who shepherds the arm of the Roman Catholic Church parishes, each of which has a “pastoral council,” the pastoral not connoting meadows and sheep but the priest-pastor who shepherds the Catholic flock of the parish.
Now that there is confirmation of a breach in the Comelec transparency server that provides updated vote results, the PPCRV would be wise to quietly adopt a new name and rebrand itself. It should shift focus to becoming a council for responsible counting. And the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy should disown it!
Smartmatic to be investigated
While PPCRV struggles to defend its vote count, the long-controversial Smartmatic, the provider of vote-counting technology to Philippine elections since 2010, has landed at the center of the VP controversy. And it could lose its lucrative business in the Philippines, at a time when the Venezuelan economy is tanking.
The revelation that it was a Smartmatic official who changed the script of the Comelec transparency server will now lead to a full-blown investigation by the poll body.
A member of the Commission declared at a news conference yesterday that Smartmatic should be held liable for the controversial change made in the script of the transparency server, which has led to doubts about the integrity of the election vote count.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the Comelec’s permission was not sought for the script change, which she said is a “breach in protocol.”
She declared sternly: “This automated election is not owned by Smartmatic. It is owned by the Commission on Elections, representing the people of the Philippines! It is owned by the government! They were not supposed to change anything without our knowledge and permission,” she said.
Guanzon said she and other commissioners “will request for a formal investigation” to determine the liabilities.
Asked whether the issue could lead to the blacklisting of Smartmatic in future elections, she said they will have to look into the contract.
Guanzon said that regardless of the justifications and explanations being offered by Smartmatic for the violation, it has already damaged public confidence in the election process.
As this developed, Comelec chairman Andres Bautista insisted that the security breach did not alter the vote count.
His explanation notwithstanding, there is now wide public belief that Bongbong is the victim of a conspiracy to cheat him of victory.
Miriam joins the fray
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has joined her running mate in denouncing the apparent cheating operations.
Santiago stopped short of accusing the administration of engaging in “manufacturing numbers” to produce a victory for Leni Robredo.
Santiago said in a statement: “I find it astounding that Marcos should have led the vice presidential surveys for many months, until the penultimate month, when suddenly, the administration could jump up survey results to finally overtake him.
“The roller coaster ride of vice-presidential candidate Marcos invites comparison with a garrison state. In such state, the authoritarian government feels free to manufacture numbers as they are needed.
“This is an eventuality that will cause the peoples of the democratic world to shake their heads and question the values of the society it produced.”
Miriam’s strong words are corroborated by new discoveries that the cheating is not only in the VP race, but has snowballed into the senatorial contest.
The Comelec has announced that over 2 million votes have not yet been transmitted to the transparency server. The OFW votes have similarly not been tabulated yet. All this make the final results a big guess.
All the facts emerging from the review and investigation of the unofficial vote count in the vice-presidential election point to an effort at vote manipulation, and the execution of the so-called Plan B of the administration.
There is no scenario that points to PPCRV successfully defending the validity of its unofficial count. It is not an official count. Its chief value is for propaganada.
Cayetano’s opportunistic ploy
As all this swirls around her head, poor Leni Robredo looks increasingly like a politician who is out of her depth, and is in danger of drowning.
She is clearly just a pawn of the Aquino forces in their desperate attempt to hold on to power.
It may have been acceptable for her to just be a passive beneficiary of the cheating.
But it will look shabby and humiliating should the official count show that Marcos won for vice president after all.
Leni Robredo would then have to become as invisible as Mar Roxas is now.
That Alan peter Cayetano conceded victory to Robredo does nothing to bolster her chances of holding on. It merely proves the limitless opportunism of Cayetano. He seeks to turn his defeat in the VP race into a victory—by maneuvering to secure LP support for a bid for the Senate presidency.
This can only happen over the big body of Sen. Franklin Drilon, who will win reelection and will seek to become Senate president under a new Senate coalition.
The new senators going into the chamber like Dick Gordon will not allow themselves to be led by the nose by the perpetually-scheming Cayetano.