By Javier J Ismael/Manila Times
The head of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) said the integrity of the midterm elections would not have been doubted had the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not automated the counting of votes at the precincts.
Namfel National Chairman Augusto “Gus” Lagman, a former Comelec commissioner and a political analyst, said many countries have discarded automated vote-counting because the process is not transparent and is not observable by the voters.
“What would it have cost us had we counted the votes manually? Maybe 12 to 24 hours more work at the precincts. But it would have saved us billions of pesos in less expensive equipment that can be bought from out of the shelves of local vendors,” Lagman said.
“And then, because these are equipment that could be sold, even at a huge discount, to the likes of the Department of Education after each election, some cost recovery would be possible. Or, they could simply be donated to this government department for use by the teachers and/or students,” he added.
Lagman said automation could be employed while the votes are being counted manually, or, at least, immediately after. That way, the transmission of the results from precincts to canvassing points can be done electronically and the three levels of canvassing could be fully automated.
The Namfrel head expressed hoped that the commission would seriously consider this alternative system for future elections. Various groups and some defeated candidates had questioned the results of the midterm polls, citing the vote counting machines’ glitches and the delay in the transmission of votes from local precincts. Meanwhile, Fr Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, dean of the Graduate School of Law of San Beda College said some opposition senatorial candidates could have made it to the winning circle had they been endorsed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Unlike the Iglesia ni Cristo, the Catholic church did not endorse any candidate.
On the eve of the elections, the INC endorsed 12 senatorial candidates, 11 of whom are in the top 12. Aquino also observed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement made a difference as evidenced by the results of the May 2019 midterm polls.
“The continuing appeal of Digong, despite his rudeness, his uncouth manners, his vicious attacks on established religion, particularly the Catholic Church, his shady relations with women, is a matter that social theorists and phenomenologists must study with greater attention,” he said. Aquino however said Otso Diretso bets Romulo “Romy” Macalintal and Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno deserved to be in the Senate.
“Without a doubt, people like Romy Macalintal and Chel Diokno deserved to be in the Senate. But I think that their undoing was their labelling as “the opposition” and worse, their association with the detested ‘Yellow’ cabal,” he said.
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