Comelec: No national election results in 48 hours

By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:40:00 04/16/2010

MANILA, Philippines—In the automated elections on May 10, the mindset is that the winners would be known in a jiffy.

Well, not exactly.

Results will be posted pronto in real time as they are spewed out by a computing machine on a website, to be announced later, but these will be from each one of the 76,000 precincts nationwide.

You’ll have to do the addition yourself to know what’s up.

After saying again and again that the results of the automated election system (AES)—meaning contest outcomes—will be known within 48 hours, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said for the first time that in fact this was unlikely to happen.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, speaking at a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap), said the poll body was not required to add up the results of the precinct voting or to provide a running tally on the website.

“We’ll provide the precinct data. That’s more than we’ve ever done before,” Jimenez said.

It doesn’t compute

Alfredo Pascual, convenor of AES Watch, said that the data from the individual precincts, without any summation, would not be of much use considering the sheer number of candidates.

“Try adding that up,” said Pascual. “That doesn’t mean anything.”

He also pointed out the possibility that around 30 percent of the counting machines might encounter glitches, as the Comelec itself has confirmed. In which case, he said, a manual count would have to be done.

Random audit

In addition, Pascual said that before the proclamation of winners, a “random manual audit” would be undertaken by the board of election inspectors.

This means that in each legislative district, one precinct will be selected and the results there will be manually tabulated, totaled and compared with the automated count to check its accuracy.

Mechanics of this exercise have yet to be hammered out with barely three weeks before election day.

Cesar Flores, spokesperson for Smartmatic-TIM, said the company, as part of its P7.2-billion contract with the Comelec, will make available the website where the results from the precincts will be posted as they come in.

Website for precinct results

Flores, in an interview with the Inquirer, said the website will be announced a few days before the elections.

On the website for the 2008 Venezuelan elections, the company showed consolidated results, Flores said, but the Comelec had refused to put consolidated results on its website to discourage trending while the proclamation of national winners is pending.

The Comelec, he said, does not want to be accused of overstepping the duties of the Congress, which counts and proclaims the winners of the presidential and vice presidential races.

Jimenez said that the Comelec would announce the results of its tally after the canvassing at the municipal and provincial levels are completed, which is expected to be about two to three days after the elections. But the Comelec is only authorized to proclaim the winners up to the senatorial level, he said.

The proclamation of the president and vice president would have to be done by Congress, which is tasked with canvassing the results and which would only convene on May 30.

At the moment, Jimenez said, the poll body’s plan is to just post the precinct results on the website, whose name would only be disclosed on the eve of the elections for security purposes.

The data on the website will play an important part, he said, because it provides transparency and helps in fact-checking.

Additional burden

When asked why the poll body would not sum up the results, Jimenez said the Comelec was not required to do so. “As far as transparency is concerned, all of the data is there.”

He also said that if the results of the summation would be included on website, there would have to be a canvassing program included on it. This would be an additional burden for the site, he added.

The absence of an official summation of the election results on the website raised concerns that those who would be counting the votes based on the website data might come up with different figures and create confusion.

Henrietta de Villa, chair of the Comelec’s citizens arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), said her group and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) would meet to discuss the possibility of conducting a joint tally of the election results.

‘Democratized’ counting

De Villa also said that with the election data made available to the public at once, the holding of parallel counts had been “democratized.”

“Everyone can do the count,” she said in the same Focap forum, adding that the PPCRV itself would be conducting an internal parallel count. With a report from Kristine L. Alave

Nueva Ecija solon files snap election bill in House

Nueva Ecija solon files snap election bill in House
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:28:00 02/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines — An independent member of the House of Representatives has filed a bill seeking a snap presidential election on May 26 amid mounting protests against the Arroyo administration in light of allegations of corruption in the national broadband network deal (NBN) and other scandals.

Nueva Ecija Representative Eduardo Nonato Joson filed the bill on Monday in an attempt to being closure “to the many accusations being hurled against the administration.”

Under Joson’s bill, the election will only be for president, with the winner to serve out only the remainder of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term until June 30, 2010 and be ineligible for reelection.

The bill appropriates P2 billion for the proposed polls.

“The truth hounds. The truth haunts and the truth hurts. This is the primary objective of this proposal: To prevent danger and harm to our people precisely because in the search for truth and justice, someone will get hurt in the process,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“[It] will be ironic and a tragedy if our people will be the victims of such search for truth and justice,” Joson added.

Joson pointed out that a snap election was held in 1986 to find out whether the dictator Ferdinand Marcos still had the trust and confidence of the people.

“A new mandate was necessary at the time to preempt growing opposition to his rule and the consensus at the time was that he could still win if elections were held then. The allegations of mis-governance were the same then and now,” Joson said.

Section Two of Joson’s bill says that if passed, the law will be deemed as “a political question based on historical precedent.”

“[This] could ultimately be decided only by the members of [Congress] as the duly elected representatives of the people in the first instance and by the people as the repository of sovereign authority,” the bill says.

SURVEY SHOWS MOST FILIPINOS NOT AWARE OF JPEPA

While the Senate continues to conduct hearings on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement

(JPEPA) as part of the ratification process, results of IBON’s latest nationwide survey show that the public awareness of the pact is very low, despite being signed last year.

However, those who were aware of the JPEPA believe that the Senate should not ratify the controversial free trade pact.

Out of the 36.8% of respondents who were aware of the JPEPA, 73.7% said they were aware that the agreement is currently before the Senate for ratification. Of these, 55.7% said they were not in favor of the ratification of the JPEPA.

The IBON October 2007 survey was conducted across various sectors nationwide from October 1 to 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

On the JPEPA

Do you know that there is an agreement between the governments of Japan and the Philippines called the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA that intends to liberalize trade, service and investment?

October 2007

Frequency

Percentage

Yes

551

36.78

No

944

63.02

No answer

3

0.20

Total

1,498

100.00

Do you know that the JPEPA is now for ratification at the Senate?

October 2007

Frequency

Percentage

Yes

406

73.68

No

143

25.95

No answer

2

0.36

Total

551

100.00

Are you in favor of the ratification of JPEPA?

October 2007

Frequency

Percentage

Yes

153

37.68

No

226

55.67

Don’t know

23

5.67

No answer

4

0.99

Total

406

100.00

Complain

complain.jpgDONE: Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel holds the graft complaint against resigned Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. JOAN BONDOC

Bribe

beltran.jpgFULL DISCLOSURE: In a privilege speech, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran recounts where, when, how and who offered him a bribe in exchange for his signature on the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo filed by lawyer Roel Pulido late Friday. JOAN BONDOC

JPEPA UNDERMINES RP CONSTITUTION, SHUTS DOOR TO REAL ECONOMIC DEV’T

The Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) violates provisions of the 1987 Constitution which are vital to the country’s future economic development, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

The JPEPA directly undermines the intent of the Constitutional mandate to promote the “preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally-produced goods”, IBON research head Sonny Africa said. The JPEPA’s various provisions on National Treatment in Articles 17 (goods), 73 (services), 89 (investment), 131 (government procurement) prevent the Philippines from actively supporting Filipino producers.

The JPEPA moreover severely restricts the country to pass laws setting economic policy by prohibiting performance requirements. This effectively prevents Congress from enacting laws that ensure that the country benefits from Japanese investments.

Africa pointed out that under the Agreement, the country would be prohibited from enacting local content requirements, local labor requirements and technology transfer provisions.

The JPEPA’s provisions on taxation expropriation also lay the groundwork for legal challenges to future tax measures, effectively protecting the profits of Japanese corporations at the expense of the country’s right to tax all economic activity within its jurisdiction.

The country’s past experience with free trade validates the wisdom of such economic protections guaranteed in the Constitution, Africa said. Trade as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) has doubled from in recent years. Over that same period, foreign investment quadrupled as a share of GDP, from 4% to some 15 percent. And yet joblessness has soared to historic highs with unemployment rates of 11% and some 11 million Filipinos either jobless or looking for more work. The share of domestic manufacturing to GDP has continued to fall to 23%, as has employment in the sector to 9%, while agricultural deficits have been high and rising since the mid-1990s.

According to Africa , the provisions in the Philippine Constitution are based on solid historical experience of countries that have reached any kind of industrial or agricultural development, including Japan itself. But the JPEPA enshrines a defeatist policy-making and in doing so violates the 1987 Constitution’s vital economic provisions.

As the Senate holds its final hearing on the JPEPA today, IBON urges the senators to consider the Agreement’s future impact on the country’s economic development. The free-trade pact, if ratified, would shut the door to any real industrial development and modernization.

TOTAL LOST REVENUES FROM JPEPA COULD PAY FOR SALARIES OF RP NURSES

The Philippine government could actually keep Filipino nurses from going abroad by utilizing revenues it would otherwise have foregone under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

The average monthly salary of a nurse in the public sector is some P10,000. Government employs around 20,000 nurses, and even if we increase their salaries to P50,000, it would only cost the government P1 billion. This is less than one-tenth of the estimated P10.6 billion in tariff revenues foregone annually with the target tariff eliminations for the Philippines under JPEPA.

Low salaries are the reasons why the country has become the leading exporter of nurses globally with 85% of all employed Filipino nurses actually working abroad. But this exodus of health workers has taken its toll on the health system, with 200 hospitals closing and 800 more partially closing in recent years due to lack of nurses.

The tariff revenues foregone under JPEPA could potentially go far in improving the salaries of public sector nurses and in the hiring of new ones. These would go a long way in improving the shortage of nursing care in the country.

PROPOSED 2008 BUDGET ALLOCATES ONLY P180 PER FILIPINO FOR HEALTH SERVICES

In the proposed 2008 budget, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the health department is one of the top gainers in terms of budgetary allocations. But the increased budget is still inadequate to ensure a satisfactory level of health services for Filipinos, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

Under the 2008 budget proposal, the Department of Health (DOH) is allocated P16.3 billion. Based on an estimated population of 90.5 million for 2008, this means that government will allocate just P180.29 per Filipino for health services.

The low per capita allocation for health is part of a pattern of government’s neglect of the public health sector, said IBON executive editor Rosario Bella Guzman. The country’s poor, who cannot afford to pay for healthcare and rely on free or subsidized government services, are the most affected by low government spending on health. This is reflected in DOH figures that show that as of 2003, the poorest 20% suffered the most number of infant and child mortality rates.

The poor allocation of the health budget is manifested in the scarce number of public health workers. In 2004, there were only around 4 doctors and 5 nurses for every 100,000 Filipinos.

Government’s skewed priorities can be seen in other budgetary allocations that are given more importance over health spending: debt interest payments are allocated P295 billion or P3,261 per Filipino. Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense will receive P56 billion– or more than three times the allocation for the DOH

LP threatens to go to court over exclusion from House CA

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:22pm (Mla time) 08/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party is threatening to raise before the Supreme Court the decision of the House of Representatives not to give the party representation in the Commission on Appointments, a member said Friday.

 

Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III, head of the LP contingent in the House, has demanded an explanation from Speaker Jose De Venecia as he threatened to bring the issue to the high tribunal.

 

Oriental Mindoro Representative Alfonso Umali complained how De Venecia allegedly ignored his nomination to the commission by the LP based on the proportional representation for the commission’s membership as provided in the Constitution.

 

In its present composition, the House contingent to the commission has six members from the LAKAS-CMD (Christian Muslim Democrats), three from KAMPI (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or Partner of the Free Filipino), two from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, and one from the opposition bloc.

 

“We will continue to call the attention of the Speaker and we’ll as for the clear interpretation of the Constitution from him. If he does not agree with us, we will bring it to the Supreme Court,” Tañada said in a phone interview.

 

He specifically questioned why the NPC got two slots in the commission when it has only around 28 members in the House.

 

Umali cited Section 18 of Article VI on the Legislative Department, which created the Commission on Appointments consisting of the President of the Senate as ex-officio chairman, twelve senators, and twelve members of the House of Representatives “on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and parties or organizations registered under the partylist system represented therein.”

 

Following this principle, the 21-member LP in the House should be entitled to one seat in the commission, Umali said.

 

“As it stands, the number automatically entitles the Liberal party to one seat,” Umali said.

 

“A resolution of endorsement signed by the 21 LP representatives and six non-LP members was submitted to Speaker De Venecia, but was ignored,” he said.

 

“The Liberal party believes that it is not a matter of political prerogative of the House Leadership to assign seats to the commission but it is rather a question of constitutional right and guarantee,” Umali said.

 

“Thus, it hereby expresses its disappointment and condemnation over the failure of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. to follow this constitutional mandate of proportional representation for the membership at the Commission on Appointments,” Umali said.

 

But Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor is unfazed by Tañada’s threat.

 

“That’s perfectly ok. It’s their right,” Defensor said in a separate interview.

 

Defensor said he had no idea how the House had chosen its contingent to the commission because his task was only to read the names of the nominees in the plenary.

 

“I don’t know, I’ m not the one making nomination. Tagabasa lang ako [I am only a reader],” he said. “I didn’t bother how the leadership determines the allocation of the coalition because there are many parties involved.”

 

Instead of raising this issue on the floor, Defensor advised Tanada’s group to just write Roberto Nazareno, the House secretary-general.

Tito, Vic, Joey want to help “Hello Papie” probe

Tito, Vic, Joey want to help “Hello Papie” probe
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Inquirer
Last updated 08:19pm (Mla time) 08/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The comedy trio Tito, Vic and Joey are keen on bringing their street smarts to the Senate, which is looking into the “Hello Papie’’ controversy of their rival show.

 

The comedy trio hosting the noontime TV program “Eat Bulaga” on GMA 7 is willing to appear before the Senate to provide “key inputs’’ on how to run a scam-proof game on television.

 

Senators Manuel Roxas II, chairman of the committee on trade and commerce, Ramon Revilla Jr., of the committee on information and mass media, and Manuel Lapid, of the committee on games and amusement, have expressed interest in looking into the scandal.

 

Roxas has already asked the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to explain why they have failed to monitor these TV show contests to protect the interest of TV viewers.

 

Roxas said the TV games were clearly part of the coverage of DTI, which was still verifying complaint against the show, because the TV viewers were like consumers that should be protected from being duped.

 

Tito Sotto, a former senator, said he and his co-hosts — Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon — could help the lawmaker son the mechanics of TV games having had close to 30 years’ experience in hosting and crafting novelty games on the boob tube.

 

Eat Bulaga started airing in 1979.

 

“We’re ready to volunteer our experience on how to host a TV game and how to ensure the integrity of these contests. We will tell them how these are run so that the host would not make a mistake,’’ said Sotto, a two-time senator who lost in his attempt to return to the Senate last May.

 

The Senate is looking into the mounting verbal complaints against Willie Revillame, host of rival variety show “Wowowee,” who was caught fumbling in revealing where the jackpot number “2’’ in the show’s “Wilyonaryo’’ portion was placed.

 

Revillame claimed that he has nothing to explain because there have been no complaints, while Wowowee’s producer, ABS CBN Broadcasting Corp., has dismissed the incident as an honest mistake.

But Sotto said it was “too much a stretch’’ for ABS-CBN to claim that having two sets of numbers in the jackpot wheel because the video footage clearly showed that Revillame had control of what number to show.

 

“Everybody can see the irregularity. You cannot afford to make a mistake here and you cannot put two numbers in one box,’’ said Sotto who noted that this incident has never happened in their show .

 

“There might have been one instance where we prematurely opened the jackpot number but never have we placed two numbers in one box,’’ said Sotto.

 

De Leon earlier urged the Senate to turn its attention from the “Hello Garci’’ scandal to the “Hello Papie [Revillame’s pet name]’’ scandal because millions of TV viewers were concerned about the integrity of TV game shows. De Leon and Revillame had previously exchanged harsh words on their respective shows.