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May 14

D-Day

Running updates on today’s elections are posted minute-by-minute in Eleksyon 2007 Running ACcount.

For the next few days, at least, the world will continue peeking at goings-on here. At least from time to time. Reports by the Associated Press, and from Reuters, and by online publications like the Asia Sentinel not try to place the elections in context, but serve, for many publications and news outfits, as the only Philippine-related news they’ll either get or publish.

Sylvia Mayuga puts it best: this day is a day that calls for Hawk Eyes at the Polls. Most observers will be focusing on local color, the surface signs from which one gleans a deeper understanding of our democratic behavior. This is a historic election, as today’s Inquirer editorial says:

It is crucial that we understand why, exactly a hundred years after the first nationwide vote in our history, less than four decades after the untold violence of the 1969 elections, 20 years after the divisive snap election of 1986, today’s vote seems headed for a new low.

More opportunities exist to report acts of fraud; the country’s two major networks have taken the lead in encouraging “citizen journalists” to record any suspicious activity, for possible airing on TV or uploading to their websites. At the same time, election manipulators who operated during the 2004 vote remain active (some of them, in fact, promoted to or running for higher government office). As Newsbreak magazine has reported, some of them have even learned their lessons from the Garci scandal.

The political opposition’s failure to organize, and to prepare properly for this electoral contest, has also made many of its candidates vulnerable to massive fraud. The Arroyo administration’s unwillingness, or its incapacity, to form unity tickets in all areas has given Lakas and Kampi candidates the green light to use their administration affiliation and their cash-rich war chests against each other.

The key factor, however, is attitudinal: The main reason the surveys say half of the country’s voters believe today’s elections will be dirty and dishonest lies in this administration’s increasingly pernicious culture of impunity. At its highest levels (think only of bribe-dangler Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, or of politically partisan AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon), this administration practices the most cynical of election policies: Legality is defined by what it can get away with.

But the real story starts tonight, when the counting begins and the true implications of various strategies can begin to be weighed. For example, An OFW in Hong Kong sees mischief aimed at Alan Peter Cayetano. Only when the exit polls get revealed, and the quick counts crank up, can people begin to guess if his candidacy’s survived all challenges, or won’t.

Whether its Sunday’s Inquirer editorial, or Amando Doronila, the expectation is that today’s going to prove a landmark election in many ways. Not least, as the editorial puts it,

It is for this reason that, contrary to the legal principle of regularity which the Arroyo administration invokes ad nauseam to defend itself on controversial decisions, we believe that the opposite principle actually operates during elections. We assume-we must assume-that the principle of irregularity attends the conduct of the vote.

On voters’ registration, for example: A look at the interactive Google Map available on Inquirer.net shows that some of the traditionally vulnerable-to-fraud areas enjoyed a suspiciously high increase in new voters between 2004 and 2007, while traditionally oppositionist Metro Manila suffered an unusual decline. We must assume that this is already a form of cheating.

On military involvement in the polls: The disclosure that the Army has forced its soldiers to vote uniformly, and the revelation-caught on national TV-that soldiers deployed in Camarines Sur are campaigning for the President’s son, are equally serious. We must assume, even before an investigation is complete, that some military units will be used, again, in some form of cheating.

On the news that stuffed ballot boxes have been intercepted: We must assume, together with previous dagdag-bawas victims, like Aquilino Pimentel Jr., that the cheating has in fact begun.

On reports that a river of cash is now flowing into the country’s barangays: While groups like Lente have admirably focused their attention on wholesale fraud at the canvassing level, the reality remains that much of the cheating will still happen at the retail level. Votes are still bought piecemeal, in exchange for a few hundred pesos, perhaps a little bit more. In local races, elections are sometimes decided this way. The Palace has made much of the fact that the opposition failed to field candidates in most races, but let us not delude ourselves: contests between Lakas and Kampi candidates, both administration-affiliated, both flush with cash, will be fierce too. Thus, we must assume that election cheating will also be done the traditional way: by buying the vote, one voter at a time.

And because, as Doronila explains it,

Few Philippine elections have heightened fears of massive cheating since the 1949 presidential election when the “birds and the bees voted” in Lanao province, in Mindanao, as much as the 2007 elections have.

This is so because the administration has mobilized the total machinery of the ruling political coalition (Lakas-CMD party), and the military, police and the Department of Justice as well as the government’s patronage resources behind its all-out campaign to win control of the Senate and retain its majority in the House of Representatives.

But there’s some good news, as Marites Vitug writes: Take Heart, Some Things are Changing in this Election.

My column for today is Alarming Numbers. It makes reference to the data in the Eleksyon 2007 Election Map. First, start with the Comelec’s own figures, which suggest a large increase in registered voters in some provinces:

Blue Green
Then refer to the information in the Newsbreak (Cheats Adjust Style for Monday Polls) on provinces targeted for special operations.

The compare that, as I did, with the Comelec’s own figures on voter registration. See for example areas controlled by administration allies, such as Cagayan:

Cagayan-1

Or areas where the votes are traditionally delayed and where intervention by operators is ofen reported:
Lanao
Lanao

Basilan
Basilan
Then look at generally opposition-oriented areas, to see the drop in registered voters (and an increase in administration-controlled areas):

Makati
Makati
Qc-1
Quezon City
Manila-1
Manila
Pasig
Pasig
Malabon
Malabon-Navotas
Then return to t5he Newsbreak report on the strategy for cheating that operatives say will kick into place over the next few days. The report points to provinces where the administration’s set to massage the numbers by having a higher-than-expected voter turnout in places with an unusual increase in registered voters; and by maximizing the vote in places they can claim are their bailiwicks, anyway.

Ph Elections President 2004-1
So here’s a map of the 2004 election results. If Newsbreak is correct, the provinces that claimed to vote Arroyo in 2004 will be where unusually high pro-administration results will also be claimed (the map is from Wikipedia).

For now, we can only hope for the best.
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63 comments

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  1. inodoro ni emilie

    bencard,

    honestly, i am still not over your comment–which i find beneath you. the cheapest, in fact, i have ever read in all the mudslingings that has taken place in this blog.

    what a loser’s attitude! [and i don’t mean that in the electoral sense].

    tsk, tsk.

  2. toniong pagod

    i think i agree with all the other previous comments.

    the “i don’t know about you but i’m in the states and you’re screwed, so there!” comment was just… lame.

    reminds of the time i was back in Toronto, during EDSA 1 and a whole bunch of like-minded losers with Canadian passports wanted to storm the Embassy because “they can do a better job.”

    strong words from people who hide an ocean away and take potshots at the people in the country.

    dude, as one of your adopted Presidents once said:

    “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

    to those of us here…

    good luck to us.

  3. ay_naku

    Bencard, don’t be such a sore loser. Your last comment (May 15th, 2007 at 10:05 am) made you sound so small and bitter. Really, you can do better than that. And those who disagree with your views are misguided?

    Tsk tsk, your slip is showing.

  4. Jeg

    Come on, fellas. Lay off Bencard. So he heckles from the sidelines, so what? Hecklers only make the good players play better. 😉

  5. UPn student

    Bencard must have thought that he was in US-of-A where elections results are known 24 hours after the polls close.

  6. baycas

    Come on, fellas. Lay off Bencard.

    yeah, it’s just heightened emotion and possibly increase in blood pressure…nothing more. i’m sure he didn’t mean it just like when he resorted to name-calling 2 blogposts ago.

    bencard, the counting’s not over…and until then let’s keep our cool. anything can happen…

  7. The Ca t

    Nothing but trending. Before, they used to mention the precincts from where the votes have been tallied, ngayon, wala na so the people have just to guess where they’re coming from. Sheesh.

    Just like the survey.

    During the snap election, the programmers walked out in protest of the instruction to input wrong data.

    Several years later, I thought the software being used is very sophisticated. Yon pala Excel lang.

  8. manuelbuencamino

    Cat,

    “Nothing but trending.”

    Trending by ______?

  9. manuelbuencamino

    Cat,

    “Nothing but trending.”

    Trending by ______?

  10. manuelbuencamino

    Cat,

    “Nothing but trending.”

    Trending. With malice?

  11. UPn student

    Bencard: Foreign press, while noting GMA-team losing the Senate to the opposition, the (foreign-press-) conclusion remains that “Arroyo set to keep power”. Click here for one such commentary:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0514/p05s01-woap.html

  12. The Ca t

    Ow come on mb, you’re not a neophyte in politics, are you?
    Just like the survey that shapes opinion, the choice of what precincts’tallies to input in the computer makes people think that it is the trend.

  13. Bencard

    jeg, to answer your question, yes, there may still be darkness if TU wins, but then we won’t have accused felons (bailed-out detainees) and power monopolists from the same immediate families in the already-discredited senate.

  14. inodoro ni emilie

    humirit ka pa bencard.

    for me, anything more you say in a political discourse like this has lost its glitter. for we realize that in the end, you’re just out to provide comfort to your own ass. sayang, i enjoyed pa naman your personal banters, no matter how extreme or myopic your views were at times.

    in a way, tama ka: buti pa diyan, hindi “immediate families” ang mag-aaruga sa ‘yo. so have a good retirement homelife in the u.s. of a!

    jeg, heckling comes with the territory in a forum like this. but to wish ill-will for a lot just because one is nestled relatively peaceful in a crag puts the person at the height of–not tacklessness–but utter insensitivity.

  15. Bencard

    inodoro, i don’t have to defend myself from anyone for my comments here but i have never wished ill of anyone, anywhere unless in a fair give and take, i.e. when provoked a priori, or to respond in kind. Yet, can you cite any such wish i made in this blog? If you do, i will tell you the context in which it was made, assuming you are open-minded.

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