"The hard truth is Congress collectively committed an act of betraying public trust and for culpable violation of the Constitution for contracting our electoral system."
Maybe it is high time for us to take a second look at the suggestion of former Senator Francisco “Kit’ Tatad for the government to examine the possibility of taking over the functions of the Commission on Elections. The idea is not ludicrous as some narcissistic hypocritical criers for democracy might think, but to bring about rejuvenation to the mangiest electoral system we ever had.
I do not want to sound syllogistic but I want to remind all that the primary function of the Comelec is to conduct, supervise and hold a clean, honest, fair and peaceful election. The converging point to actualize this noble process is to guarantee that it would be peaceful. Only the Armed Forces can do it. Without that guarantee, our election would be nothing more but beatitude. No amount of self-righteous exhortation will assure that our electoral exercise will work.
The role of the AFP is not to conduct and hold an election but to ensure that the exercise will be peaceful, clean, fair and honest to prevent our society from slipping into the precipice of violence. The promise of speeding up the counting to justify the hiring of Smartmatic by the money-making yellow government ended up as one of nirvana. Unfortunately, not one of those promises was fulfilled. On the contrary, the wholesale electoral fraud saw in us electing winners, which many say, are the products of electronic hocus-pocus.
For the AFP, taking over the Comelec is not to militarize our electoral system or a prelude to establishing a dictatorial form of government. If we look ourselves as patients inside the ICU, the military is just acting as doctors racing to keep us alive. They are not concerned about the result, but the manner how we conduct our election to avoid the circumstance of our society sliding towards a bloody upheaval. Many suspect both the Comelec and Smartmatic connived to manacle our people into technical slavery with those foreign operators of the electoral cheating machines free to choose candidates they like to win. We cannot for long allow this farce election to continue by depriving us of our sovereign right to elect who will govern us. Electoral fraud is our best recipe for a bloody upheaval.
This is clear in Article IX, C, and Section 2 (4) of the Constitution, to quote: “Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies, and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible election.”
Are we going to allow ourselves to be engulfed in violence to validly invoke the Constitution? Surely, this is not what the Constitution meant for us to attain a workable democracy. Second, if the Comelec is the one that violated the Constitution, then who is that one being suggested to in Article IX, C, Section 2 (8) of the Constitution as having the power to “recommend to the President the removal of any officer or employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order or decision?”
Many may not agree but the hard truth is Congress collectively committed an act of betraying public trust and for culpable violation of the Constitution for contracting our electoral system.
Article IX, Section 2, (1) and (2) provides respectively: “(1) The Commission on Election shall exercise the following powers and functions: (1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. (2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contest relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all the elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by the trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.”
There is nothing in the Constitution that mandates Congress or the Comelec to contract out the exercise of our electoral system, more so to a foreign corporation. Remember, Smartmatic managed to sneak in as partner of Strategic Alliance Holding Inc. What is not clear is whether Strategic Alliance Holding Inc. brought in Smartmatic, or that their partnership was forged immediately after they clinched the deal to computerize our electoral system.
Congress approved P11.3 billion for the initial operations of Smartmatic. For the coming electoral exercise, Comelec, without consulting Congress, unilaterally and without its approval, renewed the contract which would cost us P12.4 billion for the mere lease of those voting counting machines (VCM) despite the unresolved protest against the rigged election of Leni Robredo as alleged Vice President. The question that is asked is whether it is justifiable for us to have an easy quick count that will cost us about P13 billion for the rent of those machines; and second, whether we have complete control on how to operate them in case of protest like rechecking the results in those precincts that are questioned?
But as it is, protesting candidates are merely allowed a recount such that if ever the protestee is finally declared winner, the term for the position he is contesting would be over. Technically, Smartmatic was able to get away with the crime of fraud. As we observed, the computerized ballots have almost been destroyed after they have been intentionally soaked in water or badly mangled that hardly anything
written on it could be deciphered. To this date, the election protest remains in limbo with no end is in sight as to when these so-called anointed honest men will decide the case.
Moreover, there is no provision in the Constitution which gives the Comelec the power to amend or revise any of its provision or for Congress to legislate or enact a law pertaining to the qualifications of candidates. I am particularly referring to the arbitrariness of Comelec to declare certain candidates “nuisance candidates.” The Comelec should be reminded that its powers and functions are only limited to look into the qualifications of candidates, but not to prejudge them as nuisance on the presumption that certain candidates are not known, have no money to spend for their candidacy or will not win, and counting their votes is a waste of time.
Is it because the computerized counting machines dictate that they limit the number of candidates to avoid possible glitch in the VCM? Such reasoning to declare some as nuisance candidates gives the Comelec a plausible alibi but not a valid excuse for Smartmatic to swindle the electorates of the candidates they voted.
The same can be said of party-list representatives. Many are accredited but do not represent the marginalized. Rather they represent certain vested interest class even religious organizations often used as electoral safety latch by some ambitious but notorious politicians to put cosmetics to hide the truth about their character as gangsters. As Tatad said, “knowledgeable sources talk of a brisk trade in the accreditation of party-list parties, and a big powerful politician could end up representing a whimsically party-list party of manicurists or security guards. The going rate for a party-list seat, according to the same Comelec sources, is usually P10 to P20 million, upfront.”