Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 May 2013


An ego as big as all outdoors. And an unfamiliarity with the parameters of accuracy.  Those are two reasons one can think of that would explain Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes’ pronouncements.

The most recent examples, if memory serves, are statements to the effect that “the Comelec is 99.99 percent prepared for the elections,” “only about 200 to 300 PCOS machines malfunctioned,” and “we will proclaim the winning senators within 48 hours.”  These all, presumably, to show the efficiency of the Comelec and the automated election system.

Well, that 0.01 percent unpreparedness of the Comelec includes the humongous delays in transmission, as evidenced by the fact that as of yesterday (Friday) noon, almost 24 percent of the ERs (election returns) had yet to be transmitted/received,  the public (and mayhap even the Comelec) having no idea where the missing ERs are from; only 72 out of 304 COCs (certificates of canvass), representing 12 million ballots, have been tallied by the National Board of Canvassers (read Comelec officials); and what’s more, because the 48-hour projection for proclamation had already lapsed, the Comelec decided to proclaim six senators on Thursday evening, with no basis at all.

Let’s do a little arithmetic, so we can understand the magnitude involved in the foregoing statements.   There were a reported 52 million registered voters.  Now we have to make an assumption about the voter-turnout rate.  If we assume a 70-percent voter-turnout rate, that means 36.4 million voters voted; if the assumption is 65 percent, then it becomes 33.8 million; and a 60-percent turnout rate means 31.2 million.

Which means, depending on the assumption you use, and assuming that the voting population is evenly distributed among the precincts, that as of Friday noon, there were still anywhere from 7.5 million to 8.7 million votes unaccounted for.  And that’s the unofficial count.

As far as the official count is concerned, the 12 million ballots from the 72 COCs represent anywhere from 33 percent to 38 percent of voter turnout, and  19 million to 24 million uncounted ballots.

So what was the basis of the Comelec proclamation of the six senators?  If they used the unofficial count, that would be illegal. If they used the official count, 33 percent to 38 percent of votes cast can provide no sufficient basis.


Think.  There is no need to officially proclaim senatorial winners in the United States, and the winners of the presidential and vice presidential races don’t get proclaimed until one to two months after the elections, although the whole country knows who won, and in general, the losers concede. Here in the Philippines, conceding is not the usual practice, but in the case of senators, no real damage is done.

So why the haste to proclaim on the part of the Comelec?  The desire to be faster than the previous one. Ego. Ignoring the fact that in 2010, by this time after the elections, 85 percent of the vote had already been recorded.  Ah, me.  Did anyone notice that in the proclamations of these senators, the Comelec did not state the number of votes they got?

But what is reprehensible is that all but one of the “proclaimed” senators attended the proclamation, and in fact objected to the move of the opposition that the proclamation be postponed/suspended. I think UNA was right. And I give credit to Nancy Binay for not attending the proclamation. She may not have attended because UNA had objected, but it is also possible that she did not attend because she herself thought it was premature. I give her the benefit of the doubt, and congratulate her on her decision.

Having excoriated the Comelec, I might as well call the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting to task also, for that enormous boo-boo it committed of double, and maybe even triple, counting of votes in the early hours of the count.  At best, that was a programming error; at worst, an attempt to condition minds.  I will give the PPCRV the benefit of the doubt, but that error is major.  In any case, the Comelec and the PPCRV seem to deserve each other.

Now let’s turn to the good news as far as the election results are concerned and as far as I am concerned:  It was truly heartwarming to find that a lot of the political dynasties that have held sway over years, and even decades, have crumbled to a greater or lesser extent.

The Garcias in Cebu. The Villafuertes in Camarines Sur. The Fuas in Siquijor. The Antoninos in South Cotabato. And the Jalosjoses in the three Zamboangas.

And those are only the ones that made the headlines.  I looked at all the provincial results (as of Friday noon), and I noticed that political families like the Josons  in Nueva Ecija, the Tañadas in Quezon, the Sumulongs in Rizal, the Teveses in Negros Oriental, the Dazas in North Samar, the Villarosas in Occidental Mindoro, the Tupases in Iloilo, the Angaras in Aurora, suffered at least some electoral losses.

This is not to say that political dynasties are on their way out: Of the 79 provinces that I looked at, 37 were under the control of political dynasties (defined as a situation where the governorship and a congressional seat were in the hands of the same family).  And another four or five had a vice governor/congressional tandem.

And as some dynasties start weakening, other dynasties are forming (e.g., the Pacquiaos in Sarangani, the Alvarezes in Palawan).

But considering that dynasties, however defined, have been the subject of real public disapproval only fairly recently, it is a good start. The quality of our democracy, which has been deteriorating (so few good ones to choose from, so many decisions made by so few), may at last get a boost for the better with even more public scrutiny of dynasties and their negative effects.