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

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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.