We are now about to start the formal election period on January 10. A gun ban is supposed to be imposed, the Comelec general instructions have been issued, the first shipments of the automated PCOS machines have arrived, and we have finished with the Supreme Court-ordered extended election registration.
The 2010 presidential elections promises to be a two- or three-cornered fight between Senator Noynoy Aquino, Senator Manny Villar, and, legal challenges permitting, former president Erap Estrada. The ruling coalition’s candidate, former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro still has to demonstrate his capability to attract a more substantial percentage of the electorate to become a serious contender for the post.
The fears regarding the fatal delays or game-ending obstacles to the first automated elections have so far remained unfounded. What happened were delays or obstacles that ate up the reserved time of the implementation. We can still look forward to the nationwide automated elections.
What is actually alarming is the lack of clearcut transparency in the behavior of the Comelec regarding implementation of the automated election system. Most of the delays and the corresponding reasons were not publicly reported until the media scooped these up. Even the Comelec Advisory Council found it hard to elicit information on the specifics of the implementation and is effectively cut off from the implementation even if it is a member of the Steering Committee. Its own recommendations expressed in the CAC resolution last October 2009 on transparency in the implementation of the automated election system remain unacted up to this time. Effectively, it is the Comelec’s Project Management Office (PMO) that runs the whole show.
The basis for doubt about the credibility of the automated election system and its results–including that for the presidential contest–exists. As long as there is this doubt, the 2010 elections is in danger of suffering the same fate as the 2004 elections. It will exact a very high political price on the democratic system.
There is therefore a rising need to invoke people power to defend the credibility of the electoral process–or, if there is the certainty of electoral fraud–to exercise sovereign democratic power to defend democracy. Increasingly, the people will be called upon to ensure that, in the 2010 elections, the people’s will is supreme.