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.

SC orders stop to ‘frivolous’ recount of Pampanga votes

By Leila Salaverria, Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — If Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio had reason to cheer, it was because, he said, God listened to his plea.

The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered the Commission on Elections to stop its planned recount of votes in the 2007 Pampanga gubernatorial elections, and directed the Comelec to maintain the status quo while the court deliberates on Panlilio’s petition to nullify the recount.

The high court also ordered the Comelec and Pineda to file within 10 days their comments to Panlilio’s petition.

Panlilio has said Pineda’s electoral protest was a “sham” and not based on any clear proof of cheating.

Pineda lost by 1,147 votes to Panlilio, a Catholic priest.

“We are very happy. God has answered our prayers,” Panlilio told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.

Panlilio’s lawyers said they were grateful to the Supreme Court for its swift action on their client’s petition. They assailed the Comelec orders allowing the recount to proceed.

The lawyers included Romulo Macalintal, Leila de Lima, Pete Quadra, Sixto Brillantes and Ernesto Francisco Jr.

‘Frivolous’ protest

“We are confident that in the end, we could prove that the protest is without basis and merely intended to harass Panlilio,” the lawyers said in a statement.

In his petition, Panlilio said the frivolity of Pineda’s protest “is demonstrated by the fact that private respondent is contesting all the precincts in all the municipalities and cities in Pampanga (except Angeles City) and she even identified a total of 4,836 precincts in (her) petition.”

“If true, this means that (Pineda) is claiming that she was cheated in all these 4,836 precincts without any objection from her watchers or without questioning before the Board of Election Inspectors … which is a very incredible and unbelievable claim indeed.”

Comelec order

In a July 2007 directive, the Comelec’s second division ordered a recount of ballots pursuant to Pineda’s protest and later denied Panlilio’s motion for a reconsideration.

It also rejected Panlilio’s motion to elevate the issue to the Comelec en banc.

“Aside from being merely copied from other existing election protests, the grounds are bare, general and scattered and intended merely to fish for evidence during the recount of ballots,” Panlilio’s lawyers said.

Half a million votes

The lawyers said Pineda’s claim that ballots from about 4,500 precincts, totaling some 500,000, were written by one or two persons “is incredible since not a single ballot was objected to by Pineda when they were counted at the precinct level.”

“Also, how could Panlilio, who merely relied on volunteers and contributions from concerned citizens of Pampanga, be guilty of vote buying? Surely the protest is baseless,” they added.

Pineda lawyer George Irwin Garcia said he had yet to receive a copy of the high court’s order but if true, “we cannot do anything but obey.”

Be sober

Pineda could not be reached for comment. She went to the United States two weeks ago.

She had claimed that Panlilio and his supporters committed various forms of election fraud.

Provincial election supervisor Temie Lambino said he had yet to receive a copy of the SC order.

Lambino previously set a meeting for Thursday to decide whether to proceed with the inventory and transfer of contested ballot boxes to Manila.

Panlilio on Tuesday asked his supporters after a Mass to “be sober” and not to hold protests at the Comelec.

Comelec affirms proclamation of Antique governor

Comelec affirms proclamation of Antique governor
By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Visayas Bureau

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked an appeal of former assemblyman Arturo Pacificador for a stop to the proclamation of Antique Governor Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez.

In a five-page ruling promulgated on January 24 by the Comelec en banc, the poll body affirmed the May 28, 2007 resolution of the Comelec’s Second Division denying Pacificador’s petition to suspend the canvassing of votes and the proclamation of Perez.

The Comelec resolution, signed by then Acting Chair Resurreccion Borra and concurred with by Commissioners Florentino Tuason Jr., Romeo Brawner, Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer and Moslemen Macarambon, said the suspension of canvassing and proclamation “has already been mooted” by the proclamation and assumption to office of Perez.

A special provincial board of canvassers proclaimed Perez on June 29, 2007 with a margin of more than 13,000 votes over Pacificador based on results from the province’s 1,855 precincts.

Pacificador petitioned for the suspension of canvassing of votes and the proclamation of Perez until the full resolution of a disqualification case he filed against Perez.

Both the former assemblyman and former representative Jovito Plameras Jr., who also ran but lost in the gubernatorial elections, sought the disqualification of Perez and seven of her party mates in the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) for allegedly violating the ban on public spending during the election period.

However, the Comelec’s First Division dismissed on January 25, 2007 the disqualification case for lack of merit.

In its January 24 resolution dismissing Pacificador’s appeal, the Comelec affirmed its Resolution No. 8062 that provided that there would be no suspension of proclamation of winning candidates with pending disqualification cases.

The Comelec said the suspension of proclamation of winning candidates “may only be made where sufficient justification warrants that interference be made.”

It said Pacificador’s petition failed to provide proof that would justify the suspension of any proclamation.