Archive for the ‘2007NALE’ Category

Additional Seats
July 18, 2007

First read this announcement on Party-List Groups that had garnered enough votes to earn one seat in Congress.

Now, read this:

The COMELEC today promulgated National Board of Canvassers Resolution No. 07-72, proclaiming the following party list groups as entitled to additional seats:

  • BUHAY – 2 (for a total of 3 party-list seats in Congress);
  • BAYAN MUNA – 1
  • CIBAC – 1
  • GABRIELA – 1
  • APEC – 1

This is without prejudice to the proclamation of other party-list groups which may later on be established to have obtained at least 2% of the total votes cast under the PL System to entitle them to 1 seat, or the appropriate number of votes to entitle them to additional seats.

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No TRO redux
July 14, 2007

After more than six hours of oral arguments – the lion’s (or should i say lioness’) share of which was devoted to the intrepid Atty. de Lima – the Supreme Court ended up deadlocked on whether it should grant Atty. Koko Pimentel’s prayer for a temporary restraining order.

Leaving aside analyzing the ramifications of that 7-7 vote, the failure of the Court to issue a TRO clears the way for the COMELEC to proceed with the proclamation of the 12th winning senator.

Juan Miguel Zubiri’s proclamation as Senator-elect will take place later (14 July 2007) at 10:00 am, at the COMELEC session hall.

Digital life
July 10, 2007

Digital …
as in

binary …
as in

0’s and 1’s …
as in

on and off …
as in

yes, we will and no, we won’t.

Yes, the COMELEC was going to proclaim Juan Miguel Zubiri as the 12th Senator-Elect on the strength of an 18 thousand plus lead over his nearest rival.

But No, the COMELEC won’t push through with it because after the announcement was made, the COMELEC was informed that the Supreme Court had ordered oral arguments on the case filed by Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

You can call that courtesy to the judiciary. You can also call it digital.

Party List Partial Proclamation
July 9, 2007

After a particularly excruciating weekend, the COMELEC en banc has finally decided to proclaim the party-list groups that are already guaranteed at least one seat in Congress. The ruling was based on the following stats:

Total PL votes already canvassed and tabulated: 15, 283,659

Total uncanvassed and untabulated PL votes (due pending motions): 1,337,032

Maximum PL votes (assuming 100% turnout) from areas not yet  submitted for canvass – Bogo, Cebu; Bais City; Pantar, LDN; and Pagalungan, Maguindanao): 102,430

Maximum total PL Votes: 16, 723,121.

Based on this assumed maximum, the presumptive 2% threshold would be 334,462 votes. Now, out of all the PL groups that participated, 14 have so far garnered at least 334, 462 votes:

  • Buhay – 1,163,218
  • Bayan Muna – 972,730
  • CIBAC – 760,260
  • Gabriela – 610,451
  • APEC – 538,971
  • A Teacher – 476,036
  • AKBAYAN – 470,872
  • ALAGAD – 423,076
  • BUTIL – 405,052
  • COOP-NATCO – 390,029
  • BATAS – 386,361
  • Anakpawis – 376,036
  • ARC – 338,194
  • ABONO – 337,046

Theoretically, all these PL groups ought to have at least one seat. Additional seats will be computed based on the Panganiban formula, but that will have to wait til all the votes cast for the PL system have been canvassed.

However, the COMELEC en banc explained that since there is a pending action against BATAS seeking the cancellation of its registration, then its proclamation has to be held in abeyance until after the action has been resolved. To do otherwise would be to render the action moot.

So, at the end, we have 13 proclaimed party list groups:

  • Buhay – Buhay Hayaan Yumabong
  • Bayan Muna – Bayan Muna
  • CIBAC – Citizens Battle Against Corruption
  • Gabriela – Gabriela Women’s Party
  • APEC – Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives
  • A Teacher – Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment through Action, Cooperation, and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms, Inc.
  • AKBAYAN – Akbayan! Citizen’s Action Party
  • ALAGAD – Alagad
  • BUTIL – Luzon Farmers Party
  • COOP-NATCO – Cooperative-Natco Network Party
  • Anakpawis – Anak Pawis
  • ARC – Alliance of Rural Concerns
  • ABONO – Abono

This proclamation is, of course, without prejudice to the proclamation of other PL groups which may later on be established to have reached the 2% threshold.

Party List Partial Proclamation. Now say that ten times as fast as you can.

Bantay Eleksyon’s Report
July 5, 2007

I believe I was promised a copy of Bantay Eleksyon’s report on the election of 2007, but I haven’t gotten it yet. So, in the meantime, I’ll have to make do with the PDI’s version. You can read the entire article here.

It seems that the ‘failing grade’ we supposedly received from BE stemmed from “ ‘unacceptable delays’  in canvassing; incidents of violence; and numerous proclamation protests.”

Let’s break that down a bit.

Unacceptable Delays

Bantay Eleksyon said the current manual method of canvassing was “a demonstrated failure” in the May 2007 elections.

The manual procedures “easily led to unacceptable delays at every stage of canvassing, up to the proclamation of candidates, and was readily susceptible to various manipulations by unscrupulous persons who have motives to cheat in the elections.”

The process, they added, was “vulnerable to threats of violence or disruption,” particularly when the canvassing stretched to more than 24 hours.

This part of BE’s report highlights what we’ve been saying all along: the electoral system needs automation. With automation, we eliminate delays to a substantial extent, and when we eliminate delay, we make it more difficult for cheats to compromise the integrity of elections.  So, yeah, to the extent that this finding underscores the very raison d’etre of automation, i’m going to have to agree.

Also

The group referred to delays in the proclamation that were in turn caused by delayed canvassing, pre-proclamation protests, missing boards of election inspectors, missing or lost election documents, and accusations of cheating.

Of course, these things refer to Maguindanao, and if we are to talk about these things significantly affecting the outcome of the elections, then they refer to Maguindanao only. Remember, 10 out of 12 Senators were proclaimed within three weeks from the start of canvassing. We could’ve made the two-week target but changes in procedural rules significantly increased the time it took to complete canvassing.

Incidents of Violence

Again, yes. No one denies that violence did mar the elections. But seriously. Can the COMELEC be blamed for people wanting to resort to violence to get their way? Even with gun bans and check points, if people decided they want to use violence as a means to an end, they will do so. Just as an example: after JFK’s assasination, the American Secret Service became paranoid about their President’s safety. And yet a crazed Jody Foster fan was still able to shoot Ronald Reagan. The point being if someone is determined enough to use violence they will be able to do so.

Numerous proclamation protests

On this point, the PDI reported:

Many proclamations were under protest. The group said: “This points not only to a certain subculture of non-acceptance of an electoral loss but also to the low credibility of the canvassing process itself.”

I agree with the first part of that statement, but I have to wonder at the determined attempt of the second part to blame the COMELEC for the candidates’ non-acceptance of an electoral loss.’ For one thing, there were many cases when people who declared confidence in the COMELEC – whether overtly or impliedly – who nevertheless protested their loss.

For another, this argument reeks of passing the buck. Why can people not accept that the vast majority of politicians in the Philippines will always protest losing and blame the COMELEC for it? Who else are they supposed to blame? Themselves for running lousy campaigns? Themselves for losing the trust and confidence of the voters? Themselves for even running when they obviously no longer had what it took to win?

This being the case, why forcibly blame the COMELEC for this ‘sub-culture?’

Valid concern

However, BE did raise – based on PDI’s article – a point that should be looked into:

Can there be a contingency plan in case BEI’s fail to function, i.e., aside from declaring a failure of elections and scheduling special elections?

The way I understand it, to fully answer this question we’re going to have to see if the laws allow a sort of ‘stand-by BEI’ to be constituted just in case the original BEI fails to function. Another issue is reporting: in order for stand-by BEI’s to be effective, the fact of failure must be reported promptly and enough time given to deploy the stand-by BEI. This doesn’t seem to be an insurmountable issue, but it is related to manpower: are their enough people to spare to just stand around and wait for an event (failure) that may never materialize?

Incidentally

BE also said that the COMELEC “performed adequately” in the preparations for and supervision of canvassing processes.

Reap the whirlwind
July 3, 2007

In Mindanao, it is half-jokingly said that elections are seen as harvest time by many people; a harvest of vote-buying money, that is. Right now, many people believe that erstwhile Provincial Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol was one of the harvesters. The investigation to be conducted by Task Force Maguindanao will show that to be either true or false in due time. But to my mind, Bedol is now bringing in a harvest of another kind: the man is reaping a whirlwind.

He should never have challenged the Commission the way he did, in both what he said and in what his .45 said. I suppose like a lot of people, Bedol never expected the COMELEC to actually push through with what it said it would do. Unfortunately, in this country, we can get really impatient and adherence to due process can sometimes be mistaken for duplicity.

Not today.

No deadline beating proc
June 29, 2007

The National Board of Canvassers just adjourned for the day, to re-convene on Monday, the 2nd of July. Since there are still votes to be canvassed – the Maguindanao COC lacked the results from 38 precincts, there will be no proclamation of the 12th Senator-elect.

Also, the petition to declare a failure of elections in the race for Vice-Governor of Batangas has been denied. Sez the COMELEC

“We take notice … of the fact that the winning candidates for the municipal offices in the municipalities of Sto. Tomas and Taysan, Batangas have already been proclaimed. (This) clearly show(s) that there was no failure of elections.”

No TRO
June 28, 2007

The Supreme Court today refused to grant the temporary restraining order sought by Atty. Koko Pimentel. I didn’t hear the actual announcement by the Court’s spokesman, but I was there for the entire hearing, so I can imagine why no TRO was issued.

The interpellation of Pimentel lasted more than two hours, I think. And during that time, nearly every Justice took a turn at asking questions. I can’t reproduce it all here, so I’ll try my best to summarize the major points:

First of all, it seemed to me that the Court was of the opinion that the Lagumbay v. COMELEC case that Pimentel was relying on was actually not applicable to his petition. For an old case to be applicable as a precedent in a current case, the current case must be “on all fours” with the old case – legalspeak meaning the two case have to be very similar in circumstances. The factual circumstances of Lagumbay, however – and Pimentel admitted it anyway – do not match the circumstances surrounding the present petition.

Pimentel argued that he only cited Lagumbay on the aspect of “statistical improbability” being a justification for excluding the results from certain areas. Two Justices took him up on that. Justice Presbiterio Velasco pointed out that in Lagumbay, the Court did not actually order the exclusion of the results from certain precincts; the Court only upheld the Commission’s exercise of its right to order the exclusion of questioned results; Justice Antonio Nachura pointed out that the Court has been very strict in the application of the doctrine of statistical improbability and that even the slightest deviation from the factual circumstances in Lagumbay has led the Court to refusing to apply the doctrine. Justice Nachura even went so far as to say that the COMELEC was mistaken in citing statistical improbability as a ground for setting aside the canvass results from Maguindanao in the first place.

Second, from all the quizzing that he received, it appeared that Pimentel didn’t have any positive proof that the MCOCs were manufactured or spurious. As Justice Garcia said: “It’s a tall assumption to say that all the documents are fraudulent” without proof. This was the subject of several rounds of questions. Justice Carpio also took pains to point out that remedies were still available to Pimentel, other than the TRO.

Underlying all these arguments  was the sense that the Court was not willing to disenfranchise the thousands of Maguindanao voters. As Justice Garcia said, if the injunction were granted, then the votes of Maguindanao would be lost forever; whereas if the votes were counted, and anyone felt aggrieved at the result, there was still the Senate Electoral Tribunal to give satisfaction.

And third, Pimentel harped on how it was wrong for the COMELEC to take “unprecedented measures” in trying to resolve the Maguindanao issue. Several Justices took him to task for this, in effect saying that the COMELEC was faced with unprecedented circumstances and was therefore justified in taking unprecedented measures to solve the problem.

Justice Garcia laid out very simply: It’s part of the COMELEC’s job to make sure the results are reported. It called for the MCOCs and none were presented to it in Manila so Commissioners went to Maguindanao to get the documents themselves! Then he rounded that out with “What’s the hulabaloo? The COMELEC should even be commended for going out of its way to do its job.”

So, like I said, I can probably guess why, in the end, the Court finally decided not to issue a temporary restraining order.

ps

“What’s next?” some reporter asked me. I had to fight an urge to say  “Tomorrow, expect a whole lot of love to be thrown at the SC.” My nosebleed would have given the joke away anyway.

But just so I get to have i-told-you-so rights after tomorrow, let me say that I totally expect all sorts of criticisms to be leveled at the SC as a result of this decision.

Bedol:Updated
June 26, 2007

Press Release
Ref:    James Arthur B. Jimenez
Director IV, Education and Information Department
Commission on Elections
Tel. No. (+632) 525-9294
Date:     June 26, 2007

COMELEC: Arrest Bedol

A fiery elections commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer faced the media this afternoon at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) main office to announce that the poll body is issuing an arrest warrant for Maguindanao elections supervisor Lintang Bedol for infidelity in the custody of public documents and indirect contempt.

Calling him a ‘fugitive’, Comm. Ferrer fired back at Bedol who earlier challenged the COMELEC to file charges against him. “The COMELEC accepts the challenge of Mr. Bedol. I hope he is ready to face the charges” he said.

The poll commissioner, apparently irked by Bedol’s bragging of his small armory, then went on to ask: “Is this the brave Bedol that he claims to be? Kung talagang matapang siya, bakit siya nagtatago sa lungga? (If he really is brave, then why is he in hiding?) Comm. Ferrer heads the Task Force Maguindanao which was created to investigate the allegations of election irregularities in the province.

COMELEC Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos Sr., for his part said that Comm. Ferrer’s position is supported by all Commissioners and has been ‘adopted’ in an en banc resolution calling for the “initiation of a case against Bedol for infidelity and upon filing of the same, a preventive suspension should ensue.” He added that the COMELEC is also “citing him in contempt for his failure to explain in writing despite the show cause order.” ###

Bedol
June 25, 2007

Recommendations of  Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer
As Head of Task Force Maguindanao
Re: Lintang Bedol

1.    Immediate relief of Atty. Lintang Bedol of his duties as Provincial Election Supervisor of Maguindanao

2.    To initiate an investigation under the Civil Service Rules and Regulations leading to the termination of his employment in the COMELEC

3.    That Atty. Bedol be cited for indirect contempt of this Commission for his continued and willful disobedience to the order of this Commission to appear before it and present the documents pertinent to the canvassing of the votes for Maguindanao

4.    That Atty. Bedol be indicted for violation of Section Two, Chapter Five of the Revised Penal Code, for “Infidelity in the Custody of Documents,” specifically Article 226 for “Removal, Concealment, and Destruction of Documents,” without prejudice to other similar charges that may be filed against him.

Submitted to the Commission en banc, 18 June 2007

My translation: That sound you hear, Atty. Bedol, is the sound of inevitability.