Only a systems audit can prove that election results were not affected when a Smartmatic technician changed the program in the middle of canvassing of votes on election day, the 9th of May 2016. Apparently, that is something that is too difficult for some to understand. Even Senator Bam Aquino found it hard to comprehend. Or maybe he just refused to acknowledge Senator and Vice Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s request for a systems audit. That was how he came across when he kept asking Marcos Jr if he had proof of his allegation of fraud.
Frankly, at some point during the recent Senate exchange between the two senators, Marcos Jr appeared understandably frustrated at the younger Aquino when he had to keep reiterating that one wouldn’t know the extent of damage the tampering had done to the program unless IT experts are allowed to open the electronic voting machines for inspection. But the incumbent President’s cousin, Aquino, seemed to be implying that Marcos Jr should produce evidence first before alleging there was fraud.
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Aquino came prepared to grill Marcos Jr but it was a good thing Marcos Jr knew what he was talking about. As a government agency, the COMELEC is not covered by the Bill of Rights. Marcos Jr did not have to produce proof of cheating to request the COMELEC to grant his request. The COMELEC is obliged to respond and explain to complainants like him and also to the public when they suspect fraudulent activities. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding the period over which Marcos Jr’s numbers started to slow down outraged a lot of concerned citizens. Some observed that his votes seemed to have stopped coming in around 7.30 pm and then later on, his almost one million vote lead over his closest rival Congresswoman Leni Robredo started to decline. Statistician David Yap observed a linear pattern in the way Marcos Jr’s lead over Robredo narrowed. For every 1k votes of Marcos Jr, 45k went to Robredo.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have noticed that Senator Aquino doesn’t seem to be working in the interest of transparency and clean elections. He acted like Robredo’s lawyer and came to her defence. It’s worth mentioning that Aquino was Robredo’s campaign manager. That role definitely conflicts with his role as a senator. A senator should prioritise the interests of the people, not his clients. To be fair, Aquino eventually conceded to Marcos Jr that he will also support calls for auditing of the electronic voting system.
What is also suspect is the way the COMELEC is taking its time deciding whether or not to allow an audit of the system to be undertaken. As of this writing, they have not confirmed if they will agree to Marcos Jr’s request. Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said they did not get to decide on Marcos Jr’s request as of yet. COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista seems to be hiding from the media by being “unavailable for comment”:
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon Guanzon said the Comelec did not vote on Marcos’ appeal during the poll body’s regular meeting on Tuesday.
After the meeting, other Comelec commissioners told reporters to ask Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista for updates on the appeal of Marcos.
Bautista, however, declined to speak to reporters who sent him text messages and waited for more than two hours outside his office on Tuesday.
It seems someone from the COMELEC just wants the public to move on and forget there was tampering of the program. Ignoring complaints from the public is something COMELEC is good at. They did the same thing in 2010 and 2013 elections after concerned citizens also filed complaints. They expect the public to eventually lose interest in the issue as the days pass.
Bautista, who is a known Liberal Party supporter, was said to be a former Mar Roxas campaign manager. His poker face seems to be working to his advantage. He probably thinks he just needs to repeat his lame excuse “change is only cosmetic” and get away with it. Some people are accusing him of being in cahoots with Smartmatic to help rig the election results to favour a few Liberal Party candidates, not just Robredo. They say he had the password to the program and the Smartmatic technician couldn’t have done it without help from someone from the COMELEC. As someone else said, only the administration-led COMELEC would have the ability to commit fraud.
Hopefully, pressure from the public will not wane this time around. Filipinos should not waste this golden opportunity to expose criminal syndicates behind electoral fraud. Otherwise, this will happen again in future elections. Vote buying and other election-related fraudulent activities including tampering of electronic voting machines became massive, blatant and even acceptable under President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s term. His term should be called the scam years because of all the scams that proliferated under his watch.
The recent election has unfortunately exposed the deep-seated division in Philippine society. A lot of Filipinos turn a blind eye to breach in protocol perpetrated by Smartmatic and the COMELEC’s lack of action because of their dislike for Marcos Jr. They seem to think it is okay for him to lose even if he is cheated. Their hatred for the Marcoses makes them believe the end justifies the means. Anti-Marcos advocates also show their irrational behaviour when they lash out at concerned citizens who try to help maintain the sanctity of the ballot by accusing them of being “pro-Marcos”. They also bring up Martial Law atrocities even when the issue is about electoral fraud. It has become difficult to talk to some Filipinos who are still stuck in the Martial Law years. They are suffering from tunnel vision.
The perpetrators of electoral fraud are hoping the divisions in Philippine society will distract Filipinos from focusing on the real problem, which is the fact that the right of the people to choose their leaders is for sale to the highest bidder. The sad truth is, there is no real democracy in the Philippines. Millions of votes are being discarded and channelled to candidates who have the means to pay criminal syndicates. Only the Filipino people can end this vicious cycle if they want to.
In life, things are not always what they seem.