Pulse on PH polls

"People trust the automated election system."


Democracy as a concept is rather simple. It is a government for the people by the people, where leaders are elected by the majority. The people are given a voice through their elected representatives.

The process of accurately tallying and accounting for this majority voice, however, is another matter entirely. All you have to do is examine the countless issues associated with elections all over the world to give you a glimpse of how complicated it is.

The notion that our Commission on Elections only works when there are actual elections is sad.

The reality is quite the opposite. While elections only happen every three years, this is a distressingly short time to prepare voting logistics for an archipelago with over 7,100 islands, 16 administrative regions and a still-growing population of over 60 million people.

Santa banana! Given such a short time frame, I can only imagine the overtime and all-nighters that Comelec people have as Election Day draws closer.

On a bright note, it seems that the efforts of Comelec and the election technology provider, Smartmatic—a partnership often unsung, unappreciated and often maligned—are actually being felt by the public.

According to the latest Pulse Asia survey, 87 percent of Filipinos trust and approve of the Automated Election System used in the past two elections. Some 91 percent of respondents are in favor of keeping the elections automated.

My gulay, this is surprising amid certain lobby groups and personalities calling for a hybrid or manual system which, as most of my readers know, I am not fond of because it will provide opportunities for cheating.

It’s nice to know that an overwhelming majority subscribes to the point of view that we need to use technology to make elections secure and convenient. This only shows that complaints about automated elections come from a very small but very loud community.

This reminds me of the call of President Duterte for the Comelec to junk Smartmatic and the AES. Thank goodness the Comelec is an independent institution under the Constitution.

It has come to a point where no one loses an election here. You just have the ones who win—and the ones who claim they have been cheated.

I admire and pity Smartmatic or any other technology provider that wishes to do business in the Philippines. No matter how well they do their jobs and no matter how good their technology is, some people cannot just accept defeat.

The survey results have validated the efforts of both the Comelec and Smartmatic. I hope these two entities do not give in to propaganda. I hope they would just do their jobs despite the criticism.

* * *

The current brouhaha over President Duterte’s statement that the police should accept gifts when given by people who appreciate what they have done opens the door to a lot of questions. How, exactly, are they supposed to conduct themselves?

This law applies not only to the police but all public officials. So why should cops be so lucky that they can receive gifts when they are already being paid by the people?

Worse, the police might be asking for more and more gifts, and their addiction to such “tokens” will eventually lead to corruption.

Who decides what is small and insignificant? What are mere tokens of gratitude or friendship?

If we are to accept this exception to the rule, giving gifts to public officials will be the norm, and everybody in government will be asking for gifts for every public service act they perform. We may soon have a government relying on gifts!

The law bars government officials and employees from soliciting or accepting, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value. But there is also an exception—unsolicited gifts not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, favors. As yesterday’s editorial correctly said, the problem with these exceptions is that they are open to interpretation.

I have said very often that graft and corruption will be there so long as there is human discretion and intervention in government transactions.

* * *

The police and local government units should not belittle intelligence reports that say there are terrorists in Northern Luzon. They should also remember that terrorists target churches.

What the President can do is assure the people that both the police and the military have been alerted to these threats.

* * *

Many are wondering why the President has been packing the government with retired military and police officials. Mr Duterte says he believes they are honest and disciplined. They take orders well. But is that all?

Just look at what happened to Customs. My gulay, is this agency cursed?

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Bureau of Customs , Commission on Elections , Election , Corruption
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.