Listen, learn, discern

"Technology is a boon and we should learn to use it well."



The extemporaneous utterances of President Rodrigo Duterte are often the starting point of many controversies. His emphatic, expletive-laden statements often divide and polarize public opinion.

Despite the generally-accepted narrative that the President is a straight talker, it seems that his words are always interpreted, nay twisted and misinterpreted, in order to conform to whatever agenda is being pushed by different parties, Santa Banana!

The recent pronouncement about his desire for the Commission on Elections to junk Smartmatic as technology provider for future elctions, however, left nothing for alternative interpretation. The “whiff of fraud” made Smartmatic anathema to him.

In this situation, I am less concerned about what comes out of Duterte’s mouth. In truth, my gulay, I am more concerned about what went into hisears!

Given the President’s statement, it seems that the sources of the fraud that he was referring to were not specific. They were mere whispers that obviously made him assume that because there was alleged fraud, it was automatically the fraud of the technology rather than of its handlers.

I, for one, would not be so presumptuous as to believe I have the President’s ear. But, my gulay, in the off chance that he or one of his close advisers reads this column, I will offer this piece of advice: While the people seem to applaud your candor, please be careful about the basis of what you say.

For one, Mr. President, what is the legal basis of junking Smartmatic when it went through the legal processes required by law? You may dislike public bidding, but that is the law. As a lawyer yourself, you of all people should appreciate that.

Look at that technical malversation of P5 million diverted from the Marawi rehabilitation fund to finance the Hajj pilgrimage of some survivors of the siege, for instance. The law must be observed. No matter how much the President’s heart bleeds for the Moros, the Constitution prohibits the use of government funds for any religion. There is the doctrine of separation of Church and State. Mr. President, if you fund a religious organization, you must do it for all. Then again, you would be violating the separation doctrine.

Aside from this, don’t forget the Commission on Audit. Like the Comelec, it’s a constitutional body and independent from the executive. You can’t just order it to do your bidding.

I’ve written before that there seems to me some organized move to revert (read: Downgrade) our electoral system to hybrid or manual. I have also said that it’s counter-intuitive to move backward. Those from my generation know too well how dangerous—and easy—it is to cheat in manual elections.

Santa Banana, I still recall the days before automation—40 to 50 days before all returns could be counted. Ballot boxes were carried away by goons. Poll watchers, usually teachers and nuns, were beaten, kidnapped and killed!

Electoral fraud can be committed in so many ways and the easiest way to go about it is to attack the points which are most flawed: The people, who could be intimidated or bribed.

Contrast that to our automated election system, wherein the vote counting machine is detached from any form of persuasion. It is programmed to count and that’s all it does. To ensure that the machine counts correctly, there are safeguards and redundancies that make it easy to check for discrepancies.

To answer the grumbling of coffee shop critics everywhere, the recent announcement of random manual audit results from the Philippine Statistics Authority and legal network for Truthful Elections have confirmed that this is the most accurate Philippine election ever.

Another thing that bothers me about the President’s statement is how the Palace both corroborated and contradicted his words when it said that the 2019 polls were credible despite the President’s statement.

My gulay, it has to be one or the other! This kind of statement just sows confusion and division.

How can they say that the Smartmatic system is flawed and prone to fraud when it is the system that got Mr. Duterte elected?

No wonder the Yellows pounced on this statement.

Of course, I understand. Mr. Duterte’s statement must be out of frustration. From all the candidates who felt “cheated” and would not shut up until the results conform with their expectations. Need elections that would give us a lower chance of human error and intervention. Technology is a boon and we should learn to use it well.

To our beloved President, please listen, learn and discern.

* * *

I am glad that the Commission on Audit has reported that Philippine jails have become overpopulated, There are 111,046 prisoners in facilities built only to accommodate 25,268.

The CoA says this violates the rules on habitat, water and sanitation.

For so long, I have been decrying the congested jails. I don’t know if the President has even seen the deplorable conditions with his own eyes.

I wonder too why he has not done anything about it. Imagine, the food budget is only P50 per person per day! Who can live decently with this budget?

For a while I thought I was a voice in the wilderness, but now the CoA has spoken.

If the President is not listening, at least Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra should.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Menardo Guevarra , Commission on Audit , Commission on Elections , Smartmatic
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