Monday, June 25, 2012


for May 13, 2013 National & Local Elections

Aside from Random Listing of Party-List groups in the May 13, 2103 National and Local Elections – raffling the party list slots in the ballot – the Commission on Elections is also planning to change its standards for party-list nominees to get rid of unqualified groups or nominees.

Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes,  Jr. said, “We are trying to be very strict in the selection, in the accreditation. For nominees, we are talking about qualifications. We have the basic requirements – you have to represent the sector, you have to be marginalized or underrepresented. This is the basic and this is where the problem came from.” 

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez explained that “what the Chairman is saying is that the interpretation of marginalized sector before was more liberal. Now we won’t be liberal anymore. We will strictly construe the provision in the law.”

Under Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act of 1995, a party-list nominee shall be a “bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least 90 days preceding the day of election.”

“Now, what we are saying is that there is other jurisprudence after the law that it need not be like that. The nominee instead should be part of the sector. So the old (policy) no longer applies.”

Atty. Romulo Macalintal, a noted lawyer, agrees and subscribe with the Comelec position on Random Listings and defended the action of the Commission on Elections saying that, “No law or right of any party-list groups has been violated by the Comelec Resolution No. 9467 directing the random listing of party-list groups in the ballots for the May 13, 2013 elections by raffling of their names to determine the order of there listing.”

“It is within the power of the Comelec to institute such reformative poll measures in order to ensure a more credible election and to be fair to party-list groups that honestly came up with a name or acronym that befits its organization to those who take advantage of being first in the list by using names beginning with letter “A” or number “1” although very clearly not connected with or relevant to their cause or organization,” Macalintal said.

"For sure, from the very start of this party list system, the Comelec knew the intentions of these party-list groups, regrettably, the poll body practically tolerated or allowed them, to abuse its liberality'" he said.

"The system introduced by the Comelec is a very innovative one and a seasoned election lawyer like Comelec Chairman Sixto  S. Brillantes, Jr., who could have conceived of this brilliant idea with the able support of the other Commissioners should be congratulated for coming up with this resolution that will put an end to the apparent bad faith of some party-list groups in using such names," added Macalintal.

Friday, June 15, 2012


June 15, 2012
On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, the Supreme Court handed down a decision most welcome by the proponents of 2013 midterm automated elections. The High Court dismissed the consolidated four petitions questioning the decision and validity of the Commission on Elections “option to purchase” the 1.8 billion 82,000 precinct optical scan (PCOS) machines used in 2010 elections from Smartmatic-TIM.
        Voting 11-3, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of poll body’s contract with Smartmatic. “The Court found that the main contract for the automated election system between Comelec and Smartmatic containing the option to purchase the PCOS machine was still existing when Smartmatic extended the period of the said option,” said the new Supreme Court spokesperson, Ma. Victoria Guerra, in a news briefing after the special full-court session.
            The court deemed the contract is valid since the “performance security bond had not yet been returned to Smartmatic,” when the Comelec decided to exercise its option to purchase the voting machines.. “It was expressly stated in the original contract that the return of the performance bond will terminate the contract,” Guerra added.
            Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta wrote the decision for the full court. Concurring with him are Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Marianito del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Maria Lourdes Sereno and Biendvinido Reyes. Justices Martin Villarama, Arturo Brion and President Aquino’s appointee to the Supreme Court Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, disagreed with the majority opinion.
            With the Supreme Court decision the Comelec may now go on in implementing the contract for the purchase of PCOS machines and take full blast in its stalled preparation for the May 13, 2013 poll automation. Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the SC ruling is most welcome and has removed the stumbling blocks in Comelec implementation and preparation for automated elections.
            Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. also welcomed the decision. Saying, “it is a very good decision.” With the lifting of TRO, the Chairman said the Comelec would quickly resume its preparations, beginning with the publication of bidding notices for services, such as the printing of ballots, purchase of ballot boxes, delivery and storage of equipment and election paraphernalia, and technical personnel deployment, among other things. 
           In a press release the Commission on Elections hailed the decision of the Supreme Court upholding the poll body's procurement of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) Machines for the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections.
              "We are elated with the decision of the Supreme Court," Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. told reporters, "we will be happier if the petitioners can join us in moving forward for a successful May 2013 elections," he added, noting that it is "time to go together," since Supreme Court has decided the issue.
              Likewise, as expected, MalacaƱang welcome the timeliness of the Surpeme Court decision, as it now ensures the legality of the automation of the May 13, 2013 elections said one of President Aquino’s spokespersons.

June 11, 2012

Last June 05, 2012 hearing of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Cavite Representative Elpidio Braganza, Jr., Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. assures that the May 13, 2013 National & Local Elections will be automated regardless of the decision of the Supreme Court in the petitions contesting the constitutionality  of the Comelec P1.8 billion “option to purchase”  of precinct scan optical (PCOS) machines with Netherlands based Smartmatic-Total  Information Management (TIM). 

“That is correct” is the Chairman response when asked if the May 13, 2013 elections would be automated regardless of the Supreme Court ruling on petitions to stop the Comelec to purchase the PCOS machine from Smartmatic-TIM.

Lawmakers, led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., have rallied behind the Comelec’s move to “exercise the option to purchase” the PCOS machines that the poll body rented from Smartmatic-TIM in 2010. 

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile openly supports the decision of the Commission on Elections to purchase the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the 2010 elections for the 2013 polls. Senator Enrile believes it would be more practical to use the system again than explore a new one.

It was also reported that as far as President Aquino is concerned, there should be no more debates over the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the May 2013 senatorial elections, considering their proven credibility particularly in the 2010 presidential elections which he overwhelmingly won.

Nevertheless, Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. warned that if the High Court fails to immediately rule on petitions against the Smartmatic deal, the Comelec may revert to manual polls.
He said they are counting on the SC to decide from June 13 to 15 on petitions lodged against the P1.8-billion Comelec “option to purchase” deal for some 80,000 PCOS machines with Smartmatic-TIM.
The Comelec Chairman complains about the Supreme Court’s alleged foot-dragging on the matter. “We will be pressed for time. This is the reason why we’re asking the SC to resolve it immediately. But if it takes time for the SC to resolve the issue until July to August (2012), then we will have no more time anymore for automated polls,” he said.

However, Chairman Brillantes said "we have to move immediately" after the SC hands down its decision. He said Comelec has already prepared the term of reference (TOR) for a new bidding. He said that Comelec has enough funds to hold a new bidding for automated poll systems. "There will be public bidding. We have P7 billion and we have reserves from our savings," he added.
On the other hand, Supreme Court Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said that the Commission on Elections  P1.8 billion purchase of Smartmatic-TIM's precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines is among the priority cases the Supreme Court (SC) will have to resolve soon. Justice Carpio said petitions questioning the constitutionality of the controversial purchase will be in the June 13 en banc session agenda.

"We have do decide on that case soon because the Comelec will have to prepare [for the 2013 polls] one way or the other," Carpio said.

March 18, 2012

The Commission on Elections has decided to avail of the “option to purchase” provided for in the June 2009 contract with Smartmatic which had expired in December 2010 but was extended twice last year. More than 80,000 PCOS machines of Smartmatic International Corp used in the 2010 elections, to be used again in the coming May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that the Comelec would buy some 80,000 PCOS machines for P1.8 billion worth. The purchase will cover only the hardware and software for the PCOS while other services will have to be bidded out.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said, the decision came after several weeks of deliberation during which the Commission en banc engaged in exhaustive discussions of the merits and demerits of the offered option to purchase. The widely publicized views of various groups were considered in the decision making process as well. In the end, the Commission decided that with the 7 billion election budget being inadequate, and there being no legal impediments, the purchase of the PCOS machines could go ahead, provided that the COMELEC be assured that the necessary safeguards are put in place to address the concerns of the deal’s critics.

The Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch), a group of religious, civic and poll watchdog organizations, co-convenor Nelson J. Celis, who had helped in the drafting of the Automated Elections law or Republic Act No. 9369  and who is also the president of the Philippine Computer Society Foundation, said that the COMELEC plan to purchase the poll machine “is illegal, exclusivist, and risky.” “Until now, Smartmatic has been unable to show whether corrections have been made to its system, as it promised last January 2011,” he said. Considering that there were so many glitches reported about the PCOS machines during the 2010 elections buying a defective product “is definitely against the Procurement Law and violates the high standards and best practices of IT industry and business computerization.” In a statement of AES Watch “It will leave one foreign company, Smartmatic, monopolizing the technology system in all elections and even running the whole political exercise forever.”

Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms Chairman Aquilino Pimentel III said that, “As a victim of dagdag-bawas (vote padding and vote shaving) in the 2007 senatorial elections, I want to ensure the sanctity of the ballot and the integrity of our electoral process. So let us think long and hard as to what system we should adopt,” Pimentel said. The senator denounced the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to purchase and use the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines of Smartmatic International Corp. for the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections.

According to Senator Pimentel, the fast-moving counting of votes as a result of the Automated Election System used in the May 10, 2010 National & Local Elections was tainted by the shortcomings of the PCOS hardware and software as stated by some information technology experts. “It makes no sense to adopt the same poll automation technology in succeeding elections, particularly in 2013 and 2016, if the glaring defects of the PCOS system are not rectified this early,” Pimentel said.

However, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brilliantes said that, “We decided to buy the hardware and the software of PCOS machines. But this is still subject to conditions. There are some corrections, modifications and enhancements that Smartmatic was required to do before the Comelec buys the machines”. Further the Chairman stressed that Smartmatic is in the process of correcting the deficiencies experienced by the PCOS machines in the 2010 polls.

Meanwhile, civil society and poll reform groups intends to file a petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Supreme Court to stop the Comelec from re-using the 2010 PCOS machines next year said the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente). According to Lente spokesperson Sara Jane Suguitan, the petition will be filed by the umbrella group Movement for Good Governance, headed by economist Solita Monsod, and Lente lawyers as its legal counsels.

“They will file for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Comelec from exercising the (option to) purchase. Our earlier position is that the "option to purchase" is already expired. We assume Comelec was able to find other exceptions to exercise this option. So far, I have not seen the basis of the complaints. We still don’t have a copy of the Comelec resolution,” she said. Suguitan also said that Congress had practically tied Comelec to Smartmatic by setting aside only P7 billion for the election next year.

This blog is based on news online/blog reports


The story of 

Father of Philippine Independence Day


Being a teacher, I look at the classroom as one of the best places where one can find people of different circumstances but with a common view – to stop at nothing to get an education and to change one’s life. This perspective is something my grandfather Gabriel, also a teacher, lived and breathed during his lifetime.
A local of the island of  Banton, Province of Romblon, my grandpa Gabriel Fabella “must have been six - or seven-years old when he was introduced to the "Cartilla,” a booklet from which children learn the alphabet.  In 1906, he entered public school where he finished primary schooling. Promotion at that time from one grade level to another was very rigid and getting stressed from classroom work was no alien circumstance for Gabriel. Though he came from a very poor family, he was able to obtain a pension (very similar to a scholarship allowance). He completed his intermediate education in the nearby island of Romblon, the provincial capital.
     He later joined his elder brothers in Manila; then world-renowed as a city where “the greatest annual event in the orient is celebrated,” the Manila Carnival. From his modest, small island-based school, Gabriel enrolled in the Manila High School, located at the former “bastion of Spanish governance,” Intramuros. Being aware that his parents where in no position to finance his education, Gabriel had to do odd jobs like selling newspapers during cold Saturday mornings; delivering food rations to laborers in the Port Area, and by being a shoeshine boy at the Parian Gate where he had to endure afternoon Manila heat. Gabriel had to teach himself to rigidly appropriate time going over his classroom notes as he was determined to “do better” every year. While in high school, Gabriel earned the friendship of a good number of classmates who later made a name for themselves in the world of politics like Julio Nalundasan (representative from Ilocos Norte) and Carlos P. Romulo (UN President), among others. After high school, Gabriel wasted no time in Manila and returned to Ibajay, Capiz to teach in an elementary school. Even at that time, he already knew that he wanted to use education to change the lives of others.
Love for teaching
    In June 1919, acting under the advice of  his companions from Capiz, and of his brothers who saw that he liked teaching, Gabriel eagerly enrolled at the Philippine Normal School, an institution for training teachers, and later, at the University of the Philippines. As he did in high school, Gabriel did odd jobs while studying in an institution where students even at present are having difficulty finishing one degree. Gabriel in due course graduated in UP-Manila with three degrees – an HSTC, an AB and a BSE. His hard work and perseverance paid off.
     Having received what former Jones Municipality President Rufo Faigao called “tatlong Kalawit,” Gabriel zealously put his plan on becoming a teacher to motion. Upon the invitation of then Romblon Superintendent Salustiano Vibar, Gabriel taught at Romblon High School. While teaching, Gabriel saw for himself the harsh reality of scare resources like books which students badly craved for. As if managing a big classroom, Gabriel facilitated fund raising projects by conscientiously writing and facilitating plays like For Better or for Worse, Constancy, The Pedagogue, and Mina de Oro. In contrast to what many present business-minded educators would have done, Gabriel spent every centavo generated in the play presentations to purchase books for the schoolchildren.
    Upon the invitation of the UP History Department Chair and later Dean of Liberal Arts Prof. Leandro Fernandez, Gabriel started teaching in UP. In 1931, he finished his master’s degree in UP and in 1934, his bachelor of laws in the University of Manila. He did both by thoroughly budgeting his time while teaching in a prestigious university.
The Assemblyman
    In 1935, and with the urging from friends, Gabriel decided to take his advocacy to the next level by filing his candidacy for the assemblyman position. He was well aware that he would be facing the incumbent Leonardo Festin. At that time, Festin seemed to have Goliath by his side. Festin had well-established political machinery, had the financial resources, was floor leader of the majority party (Nationalista), and had then President Manuel L. Quezon as endorser. Gabriel was a mere college professor. Despite his being a newcomer in the world of politics, friends were confident that Gabriel had a good chance of winning. One of the reasons according to supporters was Gabriel impressive educational attainment, having finished five degrees. His opponent only had one. Quezon himself recognized Gabriel as a political threat to Festin, a good friend and a political ally to the Chief Executive, and tried to discourage Gabriel from running against the incumbent assemblyman. However, seeing that this is his “chance to serve his people,” Gabriel made it known that he would not withdraw his candidacy.
    At a time when cellphones and the internet were not even in people’s imaginations and with only P189 in hand which he borrowed from his insurance, Gabriel launched a whirlwind campaign in his province’s major islands: Romblon, Tablas, Sibuyan, Simara, Maestro De Campo, and Banton. In contrast to the present where politicians have the luxury of cars, helicopters and even planes, Gabriel campaigned from one island to another using modest means of transportation like curicanan, a small sailboat that carried only three or four people. Despite limited resources and campaign time, Gabriel though facing voter’s with the knack for discernment, overwhelmingly won the election and became assemblyman of Romblon.
         As assemblyman, Gabriel made sure that his long-held priority of education would be the focus of his political program. Most of his “share of pork barrel went to schools and only about 20 percent, to roads and other similar projects.”  The rest of his pork barrel was used for the scholarship of some “40 to 50” Romblomanons, some of whom became high ranking government officials. Gabriel chose not to run again after one term in congress. He arrived at an epiphany that “there is no money in politics unless one plays crooked,” a quality he detested. After his stint in politics, Gabriel returned to his old love “to be humble professor, and to do one’s bit for humanity.”
   Gabriel’s dedication to the youth’s education was again demonstrated when during the latter part of 1945, and while still barely recovering from the war, he helped build school corporation named Southern Mindoro Academy. On the same year, he organized another school, the Bagumbayan High School (later Fabella High School). With the conclusion of  World War II, Gabriel, in 1946 resumed his professorial post in U.P. Gabriel, however, did not only busy himself with teaching. In 1948, he co-facilitated the establishment of three more schools, Romblon College, Tablas Academy, and  Banton High School. Two more schools which Gabriel helped organize were: San Mariano Academy (1964), and the Southeastern Academy (1965). These accomplishments led to Gabriel having been elected as first president of the Philippine Association of Secondary Schools and “served in that capacity from 1956 to 1960).”
The significance of June 12
    In 1954, while attending the celebration of General Emilio Aguinaldo’s declaration of Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite, Gabriel notice veterans of the revolution. He saw aged patriots, braving the sweltering heat, cherishing the ultimate symbol of their patriotism, June 12, 1898, a date which at that time was not yet fully acknowledged by the Filipino Nation. Gabriel also realized that Aguinaldo had yet been given recognition for his services to his country. Purpose-driven, Gabriel began nurturing in his classroom discussions the idea that the Philippine Independence day should be celebrated not on the 4th of July but on the 12th of June.
     Eventually, Gabriel’s idea was ventilated through several articles in the UP publication Philippine Collegian which culminated in the July 1, 1956 issue of Sunday Times Magazine. Being founder/co-founder, and first president of the Philippine Historical Association (1955), Gabriel, through the Historical Bulletin and the PHA 1960 resolution, determinedly emphasized his stand. Copies of the resolution were later sent to all members of the Congress to newspapers, and to then President Diosdado Macapagal. Gabriel’s efforts paid off when President Macapagal in 1962, issued Proclamation No. 28 declaring June 12 as Independence Day. The new celebration date was made permanent when in a special Congress session in 1964, Republic Act No. 4166 was signed officially declaring June 12 the official Independence Day; thus, making him the Father of Philippine Independence Day.
   Gabriel contentedly witnessed his triumph when the nation celebrated the occasion that was centered in New Luneta, Manila. General Aguinaldo was devotedly present. A miniature reproduction of Aguinaldo’s Kawit home was placed as part of the simulation which included the reading of the proclamation, playing of the National Anthem and the signing of the declaration.
     Gabriel Fabella saw that through education and by becoming a teacher, one can become closer to the community and that work can echo beyond the walls of the ivory tower that is the classroom. Clearly he persevered and won against seemingly insurmountable odds to obtain his education, and fruitfully achieved exactly what he wanted, to do one’s bit for humanity.

Author: Mark De Guzman Fabella is a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences, University of the East, Manila. 
(Reprint from Philippine Star Features, June 12, 2012)

Monday, June 11, 2012



The Commission on Elections issued Resolution No. 6443, dated June 08, 2012 temporarily suspending the system of registration of voters and validation of registration records in selected non-ARMM areas  starting June 25, 2012 to July 31, 2012 to  pave way  to the July 09-18, 2012 conduct of General Registration of Voters in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Non-ARMM personnel and equipments will be augmented in said registration of voters in order to effect an honest and credible list of voters to attain its mandate to establish a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters in the ARMM in preparation for the forthcoming May 13, 2013 National & Local Elections.

Resumption of registration of voters and validation of registration records to non-ARMM affected areas were set on August 1, 2012. 

The conduct of general registration was due to the annulment of the previous Book of Voters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by a joint resolution of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines.


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)