Thursday, April 26, 2012


Missing accurate

Very early this morning, I had the privilege of being a guest on Prof. Winnie Monsod’s segment on Unang Hirit – the morning program of GMA7. Not surprisingly, the topic of conversation was the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court, against the COMELEC’s bid to purchase the PCOS machines we used in the 2010 elections.

Prof. Monsod opened and ended with the sentiment that the COMELEC, in mentioning a return to manual elections, was using blackmail as a means of forcing the acceptance of the COMELEC’s decision to buy the PCOS.

I disagree respectfully.

First of all, whenever the COMELEC speaks of a return to manual elections, we also never fail to mention that we are completely against that outcome; the COMELEC does not want to return to manual elections. However, it is important to understand that manual elections will always remain as a viable – but in extremis – option to conduct elections. After all, if it really becomes impossible to automate, what are we supposed to do? Sit on our thumbs and hope that no one notices?  Despite our dislike of it, manual elections are still better than no elections at all.

Second, mentioning the possibility of a return to manual elections has always been used as a means of underscoring the urgency of resolving the question on the legality of the COMELEC’s exercise of the right to purchase the PCOS. We have never said – nor will we ever say – that it’s “option to purchase or else manual.” What we have repeatedly said is that if the Court rules adversely – which means that the Court says the use of the option to purchase is legally unsound – then we will conduct a public bidding.

Just so we’re clear: Even though the COMELEC believes that it made the right decision in exercising the option to purchase – and would of course like to see that decision vindicated by the Court – what truly matters is that the controversy be settled right away. And, again just to be crystal clear, if the Court decides to nullify the COMELEC’s exercise of the option to purchase, then the COMELEC’s intention is to conduct a public bidding as soon as possible.

Where is the blackmail in that? If this were blackmail, as Prof. Monsod claimed, then the COMELEC’s stance would be drastically different.

And third, ever since it was announced that a TRO would be issued, we have always said that we are asking the Court to rule on the main case as soon as possible. Pressed to give a time-table, we’ve said the best possible timing is to have a decision – whether yea or nay – out by mid-May. Pressed even further, to forecast what will happen in case the SC does not rule by May, we only say that “bidding will get progressively more difficult the longer we have to wait for a decision.” In other words, as far as we are able, we refuse to even consider not going to bidding as an option at this stage.

If anything, the mention of a return to manual elections only emphasizes the urgency of coming to a decision right away, whatever that decision might turn out to be.

That’s the problem with the word “blackmail,” that Prof. Monsod chose to use today: it scandalous, it’s easy to remember, and it will certainly sound good as a soundbite. All of that, however, only makes it an excellent rallying cry for the troops. Unfortunately, it misses “accurate” by a mile and a half.


I am a Responsible and Principled Citizen.

I will educate myself and others about the issues at hand so that my vote is a meaningful and relevant exercise of my right of suffrage.

I pledge to vote for candidates who will abide by the duly constituted rules on campaigning because I understand that those who refuse to obey the law in the little things are not likely to obey the law in the more important things;

I pledge to vote for candidates who, by word and action, renounce violence, coercion, vote-buying, and corruption as means for getting elected;

I pledge to vote for the candidates who listen to their constituents and are responsive to the needs and aspirations of those they seek to represent;

I pledge to vote as my conscience dictates in all elections.

I make these promises freely and upon my honor.

(This Voter Pledge was read at the Unity Walk of 13 January 2013, by COMELEC Commissioner Elias R. Yusoph)