By Atty. Rene Espina
I must admit that this article had been inspired by the Manila Bulletin’s recent editorial regarding “A Filipino partner for the Comelec.” If there has been a columnist who has time and again written about the cheating in the elections – since 1987, I think I am one of them.
You see, in 1987 when I ran for the last time for public office during Mrs. Corazon Aquino’s revolutionary government incumbency, I was one of the 22 candidates for senator of the Grand Alliance for Democracy party who were cheated in that election. Out of 24 candidates, Mrs. Aquino’s anointed 22 were made to win; others like Senator Estrada and Ponce Enrile were allowed to win. Admittedly there were quite a few candidates of the “Yellow Lineup” who won on there own merit – like Senator Jovito Salonga. In fact without Jovy’s consent and to his embarrassment, he was given many more votes than what he actually obtained in many parts of Luzon where he was credited with 120% of the actual number of persons who voted – not to help him win because he was a winner, but so that others in his ticket could win. The debate about clean elections should be over, precisely where computers are used to manipulate the results courtesy of the paid or corrupt programmers.
I agree with Congressman Atienza about the elections being conducted by the Comelec with the assistance of companies that are controlled by Filipinos. I also agree with other sectors of our civil society who believe that the counting of ballots should be done manually as in the past. Except perhaps in the initial transmisión of voting that could be electronically transmitted with the usual fraud-proof guarantee of a clean and transparent process. Anything less than the above would be useless, since, it would result in more cheating, but this time done by a Filipino company.
Remember in the past, when the elections were not computerized there were frauds committed by the system of manual count. Filipinizing the computer system and its program is not a guarantee of a clean and honest election.
Proof of the above is that when Namfrel (National Movement For Free Elections) was allowed by the Comelec in that 1987 election to conduct an election “quick count” which used computers at the De La Salle Greenhills gymnasium, someone inserted a program in the computer which automatically credited all the Yellow Aquino candidates for senator with 10,000 votes per congressional district all over the Philippines, when the congressional votes were counted for the first time. Thanks to La Salle student volunteers who stole the program of one if the computers and they gave it to the opposition Grand Alliance Party. Otherwise, we would not have known how the cheating was done. See Grand Alliance Party WHITE PAPER.
Anyway, the above is ancient history. How the Supreme Court disposes of the vice presidential protest of Senator Bong Bong Marcos will be quite relevant to the future of our other coming elections. Let me conclude by saying that we might as well follow the German and the Dutch electoral systems. They have junked the computers and have returned to the old system of manual count.