Posted tagged ‘SmartMatic’


May 13, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good afternoon! Magandang hapon!

I’ve been writing about the Philippine poll exercise since December of 2009 yet, as well as social issues that have direct bearing on the agenda of governance of political groups and candidates. The poll canvassing is ending tonight, and so will I end my notes too about the matter. Suffice me to write just one more piece before I move on to other substantive topics.

I am experiencing a sense of fulfillment with the polls here in the Philippines. It is the first automated polls in history, and despite the glitches and isolated violence cases, the poll exercise has been a fairly successful one. I’d grade it at 2.00 or 80%.

Being an advocate of the nationalist agenda, an agenda that is progressive in my country, I was inclined to support a group or coalition of candidates whose platforms are based on economic nationalism and the general welfare principles that redound to a prosperous people and strong nation.

The coalition I supported seems to have won just about 25% of national seats (prex & vp lost, 4 senators won), and I have no complete picture yet of the local level performances. Nonetheless, I am wholeheartedly accepting the outcome of the polls, even if my top exec choices lost.

I’d say to my fellow nationalists who lost the polls: better luck next time. Oil your machineries well, wage an ideology-based campaign from beginning to end, and be prepared for the next battle. We have fellows who won, let them maneuver within the confines of the public sphere (legislative & executive arenas) to advance the nationalist agenda bit by bit.

I have no sympathy at all for the winning presidential candidate, Noynoy Aquino, for reasons I’ve already advanced in many past articles. But for the sake of harmony and unity of purpose, I am willing to give his leadership a chance to show mettle and deliver the ‘public goods’ demanded of his leadership, for a period of one (1) year from his oath-taking.

I’d extend my own congratulatory notes to the Commission on Elections, SmartMatic (automation contracting party), PPCRV (watchdog group), various political parties, civil society groups, and all the stakeholders involved in the polls for the overall success of the electoral contest.

True, there’s a 20% gap in the contest that is accounted by isolated violence, vote buying, jammed electoral machines, and other related glitches. The gaps should be properly itemized and addressed to ensure a better performance comes 2013, the next poll season (assuming that there will be one by then).

To the new leaders, most especially at the national level, may you have the prudence and political will to solve our lingering and emerging problems. You just may not have all the time in the world to solve them, but go ahead and fulfill what you can deliver within the limits of your respective mandate.

Good luck to the new national leadership! Peace and prosperity to my fellow Filipinos!

[Philippines, 11 May 2010]



May 11, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good afternoon from the city of Antipolo, a seat of the Divine Mother!

The entire country is agog today with the seemingly chaotic conduct of the first automated polls in history. There has been a lot of excitement going due to the computerization technology, but this excitement was dampened along the way by the fiasco in the processes.

There surely are positives to the year’s synchronized national & local polls. Computerization, voters’ vigilance, widened mass media coverage, public forums & debates, and signs of institutional strengthening (of the polls commission) are among those that can be readily cited.

Never mind if the media has been biased for certain candidates and parties, and journalists have been displaying their ‘intellectual prostitution’ as paid mercenaries of an oligarchic press. The broadened media coverage has brought poll campaigns one step higher in the rung of electoral modernization, which we must welcome.

The list of phenomena that continue to dampen the luster of the polls in the Philippines are:

  • Election-related violence. Already, around 82 poll-related violent incidents took place. I’ve added those dead in Abra, Isabela, Cavite ARMM. The fatalities will climb yet till tomorrow, 11 May, though overall deaths went down 200% since 2004. Continuous building of a culture of peace and platform-based campaigns will bring down violence next time around.
  • Vote Buying. Rampant vote buying were reported by vigilant citizens. Some politicians accordingly paid the voters of their opponents so that they would no longer go to the poll precints to cast their votes. Voters’ education should be waged relentlessly, an effort that had already been showing positive results so far.
  • Private Armies. Armed goons and security personnel of politicians were seen across the archipelago from north to south. Brandishing guns like Wild Wild West thugs, at a time when a gun ban is in place. Building a culture of peace and strengthening institutions of peace & order will eradicate private armies in the short run.
  • Poll Process Glitches. Precints that can’t be located, voters with names disappearing on the official list, disabled persons unable to get assistance to get upstairs for voting purposes, poll computers that jam, too slow voting pace, and more. Assigning an information team and installing a precint locator map at the school entrance (venue of polls), improving registration processes, and further improving automation hardware and software would hopefully correct these glitches next polls.
  • Flying Voters/Multiple Registration. Vigilant citizens reported of flying voters. Some politicians think they can still sustain this old fogey dirty operations. This seems to jibe with double or multiple registrations for many voters, showing how the poll commission has been remiss in rectifying the registration list. Strict enforcement of rectification of multiple registrations, which already began, should be followed through to prevent the problems cited.
  • Fraudulent Poll Surveys. Survey companies have shown signs of fraudulence in the survey results. Their methods of conducting the surveys were far from scientific, even as the results were intended to simulate a band wagon effect for favored candidates and parties. This had almost irreparably destroyed the reputation of surveys altogether. Criminalize fraudulent polls, and secure the services of an independent panel to assess poll methods and results can hopefully correct survey crimes. Besides, voters should be educated to vote based on conscience rather than based on poll ratings.
  • Personality Politics. It is still a personality-based politics all the way, from national down to local campaigns. Enforce in full the modernization of political parties, to strengthen platform-based campaigns altogether. Strictly ban turncoatism, disqualify turncoating candidates, and ensure an ideology-based social marketing by competing groups.
  • Party List Abuse. Party list groups, supposedly representing marginal sectors, have become a victim of abuse by big-time politicians serving as a party’s top candidates. A public consensus, translated into an enabling law, should identify what the marginal sectors are. Also, those leaders who rose from the ranks of the same marginal sectors, should be the ones recognized by the poll commission. Party list groups led by big-time politicians should be banned from participating in the political contest.

Electoral reforms are still a viable option in this country. Slow indeed is the pace of reforms, but with diverse stakeholders participating in making the poll reforms work and in identifying viable decision tracks for election conduct, the country can move on in this arena of political institutionalization and modernization.

Lastly, I am preparing myself to accept the outcome of the polls. Provided that the overall conduct of the year’s polls will receive a passing grade of at least 3.00. Which means, despite the fiasco and imperfections, election is an appreciable democratic exercise that is much better than the option of dictatorship.

[Philippines, 10 May 2010.]