Time inexorable

Any Catholic male can become Pope. Sure. But in practice, this rarely ever happens.

COMELEC may choose not to heed Advisory Council. Well, sure. But in practice …

If the COMELEC were to not heed the AC (as the Advisory Council is often called – a nickname that leaves me cold), there would be a shitstorm of accusations, recriminations, and an endless parade of lawsuits. Unless, of course, the AC actually flip-flops and recommends that the automation project be given a green light (but that would be horrifically funny, wouldn’t it? For the AC to say that what was impossible at six months from election day should suddenly become possible two months prior).

Personally, I don’t believe that such a flip-flop is in the offing.

The initial conclusion that there was no more time to automate was based on a no-bullshit assessment of the situation. Might I add, no-bullshit and no-flagwaving either.  So far, the ‘go-ahead-and-automate’ hounds have done nothing more than a tremendous amount of that, wrapping themselves in the flag and parroting all the usual refrains about how important it is to automate.

We don’t disagree, but we must also object. It is important to automate, and if it were a less imperfect world, this would be the best time to do it. But it is an imperfect world; it is a world where Congress delayed passage of landmark legislation and now, at the eleventh hour, tries to cram it down the throat of the implementor; it is a world where legislators feel they can whip up a public frenzy and stampede the COMELEC into implementing a project that they can take credit for the success of, and in the event of failure, easily palm off the blame to a COMELEC that the people hate anyway and expect to fail.

At least, that’s what I would imagine the ‘automation-NOW!’ groups’ motivation is … if I had a dirty mind. Which I don’t.

Me, I’m willing to suspend my judgement on the feasibility of automation in-country, in 2007, if the ‘automation-NOW!’ groups would just show me a concrete timeline of how it can be done. SO far, no one has done that. Instead, they tirelessly thump their chests and scream their motherhood statements at the sky.

Tonight, I was watching the chairman of a new group calling itself VOTE (I don’t know what the acronym means, but they’re pushing mightily for automation) explain on TV how, despite the AES law’s provision about having a 6-month voter ed program in place before elections, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

I did a double take on that. I wanted to ask him: “If I wished hard enough, I could wish myself back to Thursday last week?” That seemed to be what he was saying; if we really wanted to do this, we could find a way to fit 6 months into the last 3 months before the elections in May.

Seriously. If people are so desperate to have the COMELEC implement the AES law in the time remaining before the May 14 polls, they should be able to come up with a better plan than just saying that we can stem the flow of time inexorable if we really wanted to.

And when he wasn’t day dreaming variations of Einstein’s special relativity theory, this man was unashamedly pushing for a specific supplier, all the while saying ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Let me try again to get that straight. The law requires that procurements of this nature undergo a public bidding process. Is the VOTE chairman now saying that if we really wanted to, we could just skip the mandatory bidding process and run straight into the arms of his favored supplier?  Even funnier, he was suggesting that we get more suppliers and throw them all into the melting pot and let each have a go at making a bigger mess of the electoral system. And all, I suppose, without bidding; the theory obviously being ‘if everyone else gets a chunk of the 2.6 billion pie without a bidding, then no one gets punished for violating the law, not even the favored supplier.’

And speaking of that 2.6 billion, the news report I linked to above has this to say:

The funds for the implementation of the AES will be sourced from the P2.6-billion modernization fund in the Comelec’s current budget.

That’s cute. But it’s wrong. There is no such thing as a modernization fund in the COMELEC’s budget. Check it out.


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