Wednesday, January 09, 2008

electoral reform

It is a widely and wildly known fact that Philippine Elections have been anything but honest, orderly and peaceful. There is no need really to mention the usual loss of lives plus the standard loss of ballot boxes, the counting of ordinary votes cast by the living plus the extraordinary votes cast by the dead, the anticipated burning of precincts plus the expected burning of certificates of canvass, together with the failure of elections here and there plus the failure of re-elections now and then.

In other words, lying, cheating and stealing, posturing, shouting and fighting, add hereto the loud accusations and louder counter-accusations—these are constant accompanying elements of the local, regional and national elections in the country. This is saying nothing about the non-mystery of vote buying, vote padding and vote switching. And there is the perpetual difficulty of vote counting. In plain language, it would be a first class miracle of some sort were Philippine elections altogether truly laudable and really tenable.

Year 2010 is not that far. Yet even this early, expressly and publicly aspiring presidential candidates from the opposition, from the administration and from nowhere are already being slowly but surely heard and numbered. There are even reports to the effect that election propaganda materials are in one way or another already being heard and seen in certain places. In other words, there are marked indications that 2010 is certainly an election year.

What is however truly strange about the over-all picture of 2010 as a signal election year is the practically complete stillness and silence about the imperative of electoral reform this country badly needs. There is the urgent question about the personalities in the Commission on Elections from top to bottom of the election personnel in the country. There is the pressing matter of cleaning the Voters' Lists of long dead and buried individuals, of gross multiple registrations together with disqualified voters. And there is the compelling need of automation about which millions of pesos have already been spent, thousands of voices have been raised—and there is still nothing categorical that can be said about it, neither anything concrete seen about the same.

No wonder then that not few people appear convinced that 2010 could be anything but an honest-to-goodness election year. And this perception is not only premised on the utter lack of serious and deliberate moves in undertaking electoral reform. This "stand down" posture is particularly true on the part of the ruling government that is supposed to have the mandate and the needed logistics, to act accordingly as late as now.

Or is it true after all that “NOEL" is a distinct possibility precisely when presidential elections among others are mandated by the Philippine Constitution? Would there be instead a Charter Change? Or would the State of Emergency be then declared for reasons deliberately staged? If so, would the people in general simply keep quiet, merely stay still? While it is possible that there are some individuals whose imagination is not only fertile but also wild, and whose thoughts wherefore are along the lines of the previous queries, it is however a given that it has become so hard to trust the present administration, to believe that it will do what is right, true and just.

+O.V. CRUZ, DD
9 January 2008