(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 18, 2013 - 12:00am
This title of a book written by Alan Paton about the racial divide in apartheid South Africa and the unhappy lives of the people who lived in those times, is an apt title for the Philippines today. Paton’s book differs with a single article the instead of the title of this column which is about my beloved country.
I think I can safely say that more and more Filipinos are disillusioned with the running of our country.
We have become the laughing stock of the world. And that includes businessmen (unless you are a crony) who one might think should be flourishing. They too see the lack of direction. Recently we had an election that turned over the sovereignty of voters to Smartmatic-PCOS machines and there was nothing we could do about it.
Some friends in the AES Watch gave time and effort immediately after the 2010 elections so defects could be addressed in time for 2013. But to no avail. As far as Comelec was concerned, there were no defects. And I am not sure that the intimidated Supreme Court sans impeached former Chief Justice Corona would be helpful.
When the issue of the source code came up, it hemmed and hawed with all kinds of excuses and when it claimed to have finally solved the problem no one was allowed to see it. The inference is that there was no serious intent to address the defects or problems pointed out by computer experts. The election was about how by using Smartmatic-PCOS the election of at least 6 senators friendly to the executive could be guaranteed. We shall see.
The heart of the problem is whether we are prepared to accept our disenfranchisement.
In Paton’s beloved country he wrote that the only hope for South Africa is “when white and black men decide that they are interested not in power or money but in the welfare of the country.” That, too is our only hope, not about white and black but about the poor vs the rich and government vs. the people.
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The Opposition can rail and rant all it wants including going to the Supreme Court, but I am afraid the proclamation of the six senators is non-negotiable. That is why the proclamation went ahead of time even if the official count was 30% incomplete. What better proof is there than it was the Palace itself that pushed that the proclamation be speeded up regardless of the chaotic conduct of election by these machines.
The Palace got its first wish – speedy proclamation of at least six but on the second ie that there should be no issue on the credibility of the elections will be more difficult. It presumes Filipinos ultimately come to accept the results of the election as they did in 2010 inspite of the questions and defects of that election. That is a big if..
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In a way it is good that unqualified candidates are winning the elections. I think more and more will be convinced that the presidential system has not served the country well. Indeed it is leading the country downhill. All the press releases extolling the amounts of hot money entering the country is calculated to deceive the public that all is well.
Still we should not lament the election of Fernando Poe’s daughter or Jejomar Binay’s daughter. They are merely following the script in a system that calls for a one man, one vote in a national elections for its national leaders whether the President or senators. Until and unless we restructure our political system we can expect more of the same or even worse. We would then be a failed state.
In the present system no matter how hard we try the numbers are against an intelligent vote. That is the first fact that we must acknowledge. It is inevitable that the huge majority of unintelligent voting will always overwhelm a small intelligent vote. So it is not about making clueless voters more intelligent to achieve better elections alone. It is also about restructuring our politics and governance so that the selection of leaders does not depend on money and popularity. What else do candidates have to do except sing and dance without a party platform to vote upon. There are no parties and no programs to vote for even if they call themselves Liberals or UNA.
Nor is it surprising that money should count in such a set up. The problem of ignorant voters in the Philippines is not just about ignorance. Election in the Philippines is an industry. What are on sale are votes and offices for candidates.
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As I have previously written about in this column we are wasting our time if we think we can “guard” an automatic electoral system. Once again let us cite how Federal Court of Germany ended all debate on defects and inefficiencies of automatic electoral system. It just forbade it and reverted to the manual system.
The automatic electoral system it said violates human rights because it removes the right of voters in favor of machines. It is a substitution that cannot be defended because the secrecy of computers and its programming is incompatible with the public nature of elections. And because voting is a public act voters should understand the process without specialist knowledge.
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It is time that we look outside for help if we cannot get fundamental justice in a country that has now abandoned the rule of law. There has been a start with the petition lodged in the International Court of Human Rights but more can be done if we now join cause with such groups as Black Box Voting in the US.
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Here is what a New York Times editorial said in May 1990 when the question of extending the lease for US bases in Subic Bay and Clark Field was being debated among both Americans and Filipinos. “Whatever strategic value the two US bases still possess would be more than negated if they come to poison the relationship between the two countries. ” That was in 1990 and then we had the Pinatubo eruption.
But today if it is true that the return of the bases is the US agenda being pushed through manipulated elections there would be a graver reason for a wider Filipino disenchantment with its alliance with the US.