If the administration is cheating, why are opposition candidates winning? That’s the lament of the administration and its senatorial slate as the vote canvassing enters its homestretch and the Genuine Opposition appears set to dominate the winners’ circle. GO is concerned that the vote will be rigged to bring more Team Unity candidates into the last slots of the so-called Magic 12. The opposition is focusing on the results of elections in Maguindanao and Lanao. In response, TU has filed 120 complaints of cheating against GO in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, describing the GO victory as “statistical overstretch.”
Both camps will serve the cause of clean elections if they see to it that every accusation of cheating that they hurl against the other side is properly documented and backed by solid evidence. Both camps should also file formal complaints and pursue these, identifying the purported vote manipulators plus the politicians who benefit from the cheating.
Proper charges must be filed under Republic Act 9369, a law passed last January that punishes several poll fraud offenses including the crime of electoral sabotage with 12 years to life imprisonment. Those convicted under RA 9369 will also be permanently barred from holding public office.
The incoming members of the 14th Congress should lead the way in testing the effectiveness of this new law. RA 9369, which amended the poll automation law or RA 8436, details electoral offenses including withholding election returns as well as vote shaving and padding that have become staples in every Philippine electoral exercise.
The same complaints of vote manipulation are now being aired by several candidates in the midterm elections. Any candidate who thinks he or she has a valid complaint should press formal charges under the new law, identifying every individual, from election personnel to rival candidates involved in the purported cheating. Unless vote manipulators are identified, prosecuted and sent to prison, the nation will never have clean elections.
Just reading that, you’d think that that was said by someone from the COMELEC. But it wasn’t. That’s the editorial of the Philippine Star, 30 May 2007 edition. One wonders what’s taking people – politicians especially – so long to see the utter rationality of this call for proper documentation and solid evidence to back up accusations of cheating.