Not Comelec’s finest hour

When I went to the nearest polling place to cast my vote for the mid-term elections last May 13, I was pleasantly surprised at how fast the entire process took. From the time I entered the public school to the time I stepped out, I spent less than an hour.

The teachers manning the place were quite helpful, nice even.

I and my partner ran into a couple of friends who had arrived there a few minutes earlier. They too breezed through the voting process.

My only complaint? At least for that day, I saw a couple of middle aged men, one of whom was in a wheelchair, giving out sample ballots just outside the school. This was illegal, of course. But the material they were passing out was for candidate Junjun Binay, who lost badly to his sister Abby who was running for reelection as mayor of Makati City.

For congressman, I voted for former acting mayor Kid Pena, who I thought was going to lose to his opponent, former vice mayor Jejomar Binay. Well surprise, surprise. Pena beat the elder Binay, with plenty to spare.

I also voted for 12 senatorial candidates, almost all from the political opposition. I believed that they were far, far superior to the clowns, hacks, and corrupt has-beens of the administration slate. I knew my choices were facing an uphill climb, but I believed in them, which is why I decided to vote after boycotting Philippine elections for the past two decades.

See, I had known a long time ago that the bureaucracy at the Commission on Elections, or Comelec, was corrupt to the core. Exactly how cheating could take place after votes were cast was explained to me and my fellow reporters and editors in the business paper where I earned my spurs decades ago.

He made a strong case, and I could not help but believe in his explanation. It made perfect sense.

Incidentally, that person who gave us the briefing became a multi-term senator. He remains active in local politics and I am not naming him for a reason. He is now part of the Duterte administration. I will not say that he has sold out. Maybe he has and maybe he hasn’t. I do not know.

Anyway, back then he was a most credible source.

On the plus side, we all knew that cheating was sometimes close to impossible when surveys indicated that certain candidates were sure winners.

The cheating inside Comelec would take place when races were tight, when the leading bet was ahead by only a few hundred votes in the local level, and a few thousand in the national level.

It would seem that the poll body is still at it. Despite Philippine elections no longer depending on the old, slow manual count of the past, it would seem that results of computerized elections can still be doctored.

Shortly after the polling places were closed last May 13, a highly suspicious seven-hour delay in the transmittal of votes to media occurred. The Comelec’s excuse was unbelievably lame. They blamed a bottleneck for the inexcusable delay.

In the two weeks since the elections, more and more proof has surfaced indicating that cheating may have occurred on a massive enough scale to affect the results of the senatorial race.

We have learned that hundreds of vote counting machines had failed on election day.

I have to take note of one academic whom I have the highest regard for. This time I will mention her by name. UP professor Solita Monsod, whose husband Christian Monsod was once upon a time the head of Comelec when the poll body was at its most credible, wrote in her column in a local broadsheet that she had asked some IT experts if tampering and manipulation of results could have taken place during that seven-hour dead time.

The answer she got was “a resounding yes.”

This is not to say with absolute certainty that massive cheating had occurred last May 13. But now we can no longer accept the supposed massive win by the administration in the senate race as gospel truth.

I find it hard to believe that the likes of Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino could lose. These two have been true public servants with impeccable reputations.

If they were cheated out of well deserved Senate seats, then today’s Comelec has committed a most serious crime against the Republic of the Philippines. This Comelec has all but guaranteed the demise – again – of our democracy.

With a subservient Senate, the Duterte administration can now bulldoze federalism as our next form of government, lift term limits of all elected officials, and assure that political dynasties will reign over the people for decades more to come.