Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Automated Election, Not Automatic

Technicians who don't know what they are doing, limited modems, modems that can't transmit, insufficient thermal paper, irregularities in transporting the machines. These things actually happened in so-called Summer Capital of the Philippines during the May 10, 2010 election.

I thought it was only one technician who doesn't know what he's doing.Reports are coming in that a lot of the IT technicians are not really prepared for worst case scenarios. The technician I saw spent most of his time reading the manual to correct a problem of jamming. In the end, the only solution was to transmit the results first before they can continue to print the turn outs. However there is only one modem in each cluster of precinct so they will have to wait for the others to finish transmitting.

So we waited.... and waited.... and waited... coz the other machine just experienced the same problem and they will have to finish transmitting first before the modem can be taken to the other side. So the lone technician went back to reading the manual instead of going to the other side to help them out finish the transmission and get the modem when it's done. They were done already for like 30 minutes or so. But the technician is not coming to get the modem. I asked one of the teachers if she is allowed to bring it over. It is and she brought it over to the other side.

After about an hour or so, the technician went back to our side and asked us if we can open the machine and put the cf card there coz the other machine can't transmit. Everyone of the watchers refused so he went back again to the other side. It turned out, it was the simm that can't transmit coz it was successful when he changed it into a different network.

While these are happening, the thermal papers run out and they have to order more from comelec. It made me wonder that if COMELEC was really prepared, should they have been able to compute the amount of papers needed to print the 30 sets of election returns? Some precincts were still working until 3 in the morning because of similar problems. The automation is not really automatic.

When the counting is done, the CF cards should have been transported separately with the machine and should have been accompanied by the watchers. Some of the machines were transported with the CF cards intact in a car-for-rent of a politician and no watchers were allowed to go with it. Transportation provided by COMELEC is not even enough. It seems they are not as prepared as they claimed.

So why did they insist for Automated election when it's obvious that they were not prepared? But maybe this ought to happen so that we will learn to change. Perhaps today is not the change we are looking for but just a preparation so that we can be ready when the real change comes.

A Tear for Baguio


As I stood there and watch the tallying of the results of the election polls, I can’t help but feel sad when some of my friends’ names are not climbing the ladder. I am not a political man and I never involved myself in politics in the past. But I have come to know some of the politicians in a personal level.

I thought the people had been clamoring for change but it seems this election has proven that they are not. It’s not that I don’t respect the people’s choice and the people they voted for. It's not the politicians that I don't like coz they are helpful when you approach them. It's the deals they did that took away the rights of the people to decide. I was just wondering why the people have already forgotten the battle they once fought so hard when their rights had been constrained and threatened.

• Jadewell once terrorized the citizens of Baguio; we fought hard and the very person we fought with us who has successfully drove them out was sacked out of office. Now we can no longer use some facilities because of the cases involved in this privatization of public properties.
• We also fought the privatization deal of the Baguio public market with UNIWIDE where the local market owners will be displaced. The MOA is not yet revoked and their case could still win.

Yes we were partially successful in those battles but they are still on the table ready to hatch soon if we don’t continue to fight it. And they have their ways like the way they did the other deals where we now don’t have the power to oppose.

• We now have to pay 6.00 when we go to the privatized public toilet. Isn’t this one of where some of our taxes should go? Isn’t it supposed to be publicly owned and not operated by a private individual?
• We no longer own the historic hill where the old sanitarium of Baguio was once situated. Although we are enjoying SM, are we receiving enough compensation in giving up a public prime lot? SM Corporation doesn’t even pay their taxes in the City:
• We have restricted access to Camp John Hay now privatized and owned by the elites. It was awarded to a private development company who is not even paying the rents for years now. It was more accessible when it was being used by the Americans where we used to roam freely;
• We may soon have the same dilemma when Burnham Park Athletic Bowl and Pine Trees of the World Park will be privatized where the MOA with a private Korean Development Company is not yet revoked? I am part of an organization who adopted part of the Pine Trees of the World Park, one of the remaining pine-tree clad parks in the heart of the City that we had been taking care of for years now. It once was filled with wild sunflowers and tall grasses where drug users used to hide. We cleaned it up and made a relaxing place where people can enjoy the shade of the pine trees without being bothered by the peddlers that plagued our parks. We cried when trees we planted were uprooted by irresponsible park goers. The released plan by the Korean company will renovate this area to be part of privatized facilities.

These are just some of the issues in my list that robbed or will rob the people of their rights. People really do seem to have short term memories. They easily forget who they fought with to regain their rights. It seems they just voted for the most popular of them all rather than the ones with the best presented programs. If only it's possible to vote for programs or platforms, not people.

Soon there will be privatized garbage recycling facilities. This may look good for the City but is privatization really the solution to everything?

I have seen better programs presented by some politician friends. Systems that give the citizens the rights to the City’s properties without having to resort to privatization. Plans to give the jobs to the local citizens rather than to the staffs of private companies. Plans to involve the stake holders and the people of Baguio in every major decision the legislators will decide upon.

But who am I to judge the judgment of the people? It is their rights to choose. But is it really their choice? Or is there really a mass vote buying in the process? How true is the reported triple 7-plated pajero and other private cars distributing payments to voters? Is it true that squatter areas in some public properties like the Irisan dumpsite is a “vote mine” for some politicians and that’s the reason why the issues there are never resolved? These “vote mines” accordingly, are controlled by the people who can afford them and/or the people who put them there.

Whatever the reason the people have chosen them, whether it's a personal choice or because of some personal favors or for money, it’s in their hands now. I hope the same people who voted will also be the sentinels to watch out whether the people they chose to represent them will really perform services for the people or just for their own pockets.

I also hope that the people I know who made it to the magic 12 will also use their power to fight irregularities and manipulations in the legislative body.