Council of Collusion

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Kuwentong Kuwento, Benjamin Pimentel’s podcast on Filipinos at home and abroad. This week, he begins a podcast on yours truly.

The meeting of the Council of State was blogged about by journalists Jove Francisco (who thinks former President Ramos came out ahead) and RG Cruz (who carries useful snippets from the statements of some participants). The papers have different views on what the meeting actually accomplished:

Senators say Council of State meet disappointing (Malaya)

Ramos: no-poll “disaster waiting to happen” (Manila Times)

Council rejects plan to defer ’07 election (Standard-Today)

Council scraps ‘No-Election’ proposal: Charter change advocacy commission formed (Inquirer)

ChaCha promotional arm gets P5m outlay (Standard-Today)

Dean Jorge Bocobo will be tickled by this news item: Davide rewarded with Palace post. Incidentally he, via Philippine Commentary, thinks the President’s game plan is clear: Cha-Cha is a circus but she doesn’t want anything changed.

Uniffors has the funniest reaction to the Council of State (but closest to the truth of what transpired).

An article in Slate that will appeal to Filipinos: “As I Was Saying to the President?”: Washington and the art of the “glory wall.”

In the punditocracy, my Arab News column for this week is Do Americans Realize the Growth of Anti-US Alliance?

The Inquirer editorial suggests the President’s cabinet members are engaging in Suicidal provocation. On the subject of coups, Alvin Capino discusses the literature on the subject. Carmen Guerrero Nakpil has a gloriously venomous column on the silly season last week.

In the blogosphere, let me point out the rather intricate discussions going on in the comments sections of two posts in this blog, one on Congress and the other on the Tiananmen dilemma.

Big Mango dissects the proposed amendments to the Constitution. Red’s Herring tackles People Power and the distinctions that help define it. The Professional Heckler asks what if the President were a pugilist?

Bulletproof Vest is upset with the PCIJ and The Sassy Lawyer (to put it mildly) shares in his outrage.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

42 thoughts on “Council of Collusion

  1. out of politics:

    on lifted materials or pictures posted on the net – is it illegal to cut and paste them for your own use?

  2. by and large, it’s ok to use provided:

    1. you give credit as to the source, and don’t pass it off as your own, unless you say, repurpose a picture for a cartoon.

    2. there isn’t an express prohibition for cutting, pasting, quoting, linking, etc.

  3. thanks, mlq3. i am suppose to navigate the net and plan to cut and paste pictures needed by my daughter in her school assignment when i read about the case of the Bulletproofvest. i got cautious.

  4. you could include footnotes clarifying the source. a good rule of thumb is that if it as a reuters or some sort of news agency photo, reproduction is prohibited. photos, however, let’s say from a government agency paid for by the taxpayer, is in the public domain so long as it’s not used for profit and the source is stated. as for text, it’s perhaps similar: quotations and extracts are ok, as long as the source is identified.

  5. I don’t understand the way some of our legislators are behaving. How can they expect a good outcome from the meeting if they are not cooperating? If they’ve already close their minds, I don’t think they’ll be accepting any worthy idea.

    By boycotting the meeting, Senators Pimentel and Drilon just showed the obvious. To be honest, they’ve showed their true colors. They’ve let personal interest first, before the nation’s interest. This is a show of egotism.

    So they felt like they’ve heard it all before. Nothing’s new. The more reason for them to get involve, participate and let their suggestions known.

    It would really be nice if they could just unite even for this concern. It’s already 2006. When do they plan to work in harmony? Even CBCP is again calling for Filipinos to be united. Our leaders should show that this is possible, if they could only leave their vested interest first. I hope and pray that they start thinking (sincerely) about our welfare and not their political careers.

  6. Attendance on the the council was by invitation. It means that the invited can decline. Whatever their reason to decline was, doesn’t matter.

    I’m in agreement with DJB that whatever happens to all issues that are going on right now and those that Malacanang will introduce later, it doesn’t matter to GMA. What matters is she stays in power. That’s the gameplan.

  7. i can understand the senators uncooperative attitude. just like the stand of Cory, for these senators no talk will amount to anything until the issue on legitimacy is resolved.

  8. I go for the boycott.

    GMA could play Machiavelli all she wants since she thinks it’s par for the course. But she has got no right complaining when her foes hits her back in kind.

    Happy said: “Our leaders should show that this is possible, if they could only leave their vested interest first. I hope and pray that they start thinking (sincerely) about our welfare and not their political careers.”

    She’s correct, very correct. But I think it should be addressed first to Gloria and company. Calling a Council of Leaders meeting while stonewalling investigations is not a manifestation of sincerity. If one could be blind to naked cover-ups, he has no business calling for good behavior.

  9. Happy, i agree. they can’t seem to swallow their pride.

    the Council of State meeting could have been a good venue to a brainstorming of ideas. if one didn’t participate, one can’t complain about it. the meeting isn’t about Arroyo but about the country and what’s best for it. some people just couldn’t humble themselves enough to think about the country first.

  10. guys, at the end of the day it’s about working “together” to make this country move.
    if we knew that our penchant for giving more value to personalities then issue issues cloud our judgment.will we do something about it?
    is not democracy the rule of the majority?
    in mature democrasies the minority or a loseing candidate conceds like a man.
    the council had it’s level of success relative to a group of people w/ a comon goal for this country.
    certainly the opposition would have been out of place since they are more concerned w/ petty, nitpicking politics.
    at least some senators showed up, honoring an obligation.
    fvr said what he fills.

  11. MLQ3, i AM tickled by the appointment of Davide to this particular post. Since it was his Court that killed the Automated Counting System of the Comelec, with due legal cause, but I think, questionable ulterior purpose.

    No doubt in my mind that the NEXT ELECTION will be crucial for democracy itself. We are in the END TIMES as far as Joma and his ilk are concerned, when the very VIABILITY of the democratic system is on trial before the people.

    There will not come another “Golden Moment” for the Left, because if Democratic Philippines rights itself in a good clean election, won by someone the people truly love and support, Joma and his clutch can just apply for Social Security and retire in the Dutch Welfare State that has succored them for a decade or more now. They can take up skiing in Norway and have nice whiteskinned blonde haired blue eyed descendants — all Eurocommunists.

    What faces us here, quite apart from settling accounts with GMA, is figuring out a way of having elections that ARE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CHEAT.

    I say that is a system very much like the Automated Teller Network of the banks. You register at an Automated Election Machine by having your personal info, picture, fingerprint or other biometric taken within a one year period before the election you want to vote in; you can then VOTE at any such A.E.M. — by punching in your choices from a CRT display, get your picture and biometrics taken while you are doing it, taking home an optional printed receipt. Microseconds later, your confirmed electronic ballot is sent to Comelec servers in Manila and a running total displayed publicly and on the internet.

    Of course it isn’t only the CHEAT PROOF ENGINEERING SPECS we need (we already have it in the ATM bank specs)–The REAL CHALLENGE OF ELECTORAL REFORM is gettiong the Kongress of Trapos to go along with such a TERRIFYING system, full of freedom’s technological armor, loaded with invincible Liberty clever sciences — the things that scare the political Mafias and their soldati and consiglieri.

    But let us hear Davide’s pontificationss for reforming his friends and patrons: the CAPOS CRIMINI,
    CAPOS BASTONE and the Capi tutti di capos whom he installed after the BORACHERO, like the crocodile that he was, slithered away by way of the River Pasig.

  12. rizalist, just the other day i was talking to a political consultant who has done communications for all sorts of people (us candidates, people here, russians, thais, etc.) and he said he had a horror of automated elections. i asked him why. he said, with the great skills filipinos possess in i.t., and the widespread hunger, it would be simpler to subvert an automated system than to keep it clean. he said that there are many other countries that rely on paper ballots, and that reforms would be much easier put in that direction.

    teddyboy used to rant as well about how france has paper ballots yet the results are known the evening of election day. others concerned with automation say its impossible to automate properly by 2007. what can be done is keep paper voting clean in 07 and have automation by 2010.

    it seems to me the biggest problem is in mindanao. luzon and visayas generally are ok, it’s the delay in mindanao that permits cheating and the flying in of cash to change the results. that and the lag in tabulating votes.

    have you talked to other tech people? is there a consensus on the technology to adopt?

  13. it’s ameazing how malicious minds say that davide was rewarded for his new position just because other people are not man enough to accept a SC ruling.
    it seems that if the opposition don’t have much credibility it is only because of positions being taken.
    just like a lawyer who can’t win a case will invent any reason or excuse.
    i think Davides achivments speak for themselves & it does not speak well of people who judge him w/ low regard when the very critics have no national achivments to talk about.
    if anyone can tell me what positive contributions malicious & paranoid minds serve in solving problems? then i’m ready to listen.

  14. Manolo, keeping paper voting clean is a wish.automation will always have a hard copy anyway.automations advantage is being able to transmit results sooner.because it is in the delays where “magic” happens.
    important is to lessen human intervention.
    if we really are serious and make things move faster.why not work together w/ LGU’s since the next elections will be local on a compatible will be relativly easier to follow & localize responsability then making imperial manila handel it w/c is more complicated.

  15. Cheating became so much easier when so many candidates were allowed to run. With so many candidates, the situation gets muddled. This creates many more opportunities for cheating and it’s much more difficult to trace. And, since votes are divided among so many candidates, the winning margin can be very slim (which makes it easier to fudge). We really should have a two-party system or, failing that, a run-off election between the two top vote-getters. And, to simplify matters, only the President should be voted for, like in the U.S.

    The large number of candidates also opens up the opportunity of concentrating on bailiwicks to build up huge margins that more than make up for losses in other areas. One can give up on Luzon and concentrate resources in Visayas and Mindanao, or vice-versa, and still win. The problem with this situation is that people in areas where the winning candidate lost miserably, cannot figure out how the candidate was able to come out winning in the end. This makes the system prone to suspicion and ill will. There really are a lot of things wrong with our electoral system.

    Another option is block voting. Vote only for the party. This will go a long way in eliminating the personality-oriented politics that we have. It would also be easier to track down cheating.

  16. mlq3, im not much of a techie, but things like MS Access and Oracle or other high-end database management systems can do the job of tracing any form of irregularities. I did a bit of MS Access-ing, so I can say that we-can-t-automate-the-election-because-of-IT-cheating is quite a lame excuse.

  17. Whatever software component to be used for the elections, it should be open source. As Linus Torvalds said, ‘with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow’. Also, there should still be a paper ballot, handy when it comes to recounts…I mentioned in a previous post that i hope the IT Providers would get together and treat this project as a public service, no profiteering, just like one would in supporting the Olympics or the Seagames for that matter.

  18. Resty O., i agree computer things leave a trail that can be followed like a paper trail.your right nga resty, it’s really a lame excuse.
    we really can automate.
    it’s really the evil forces that’s making it impossible because the standard ways of cheating will be solved.
    if we will have another non automated will be best not to have it insted.cuz it will just be more problems then we can handel.

  19. MLQ3:
    The level of security and verification needed is really not much higher than the banking system. What I mean by this is that if we trust the banking system with our money, and would be happy with the level of data security available at a reputable bank, we can trust the systems that run banks to secure the vote too. Also, the days are gone when SOFTWARE was a mysterious one man art that could only be accomplished ala Jurassic Park’s geek villain (the fat guy who ate on his computer workstation and got eaten by a dilophosaurus or something). The whole industry of SOFTWARE QUALITY ASSURANCE and MISSION CRITICAL CODE SECURITY is trusted by banks and NASA. It’s not like some programmer at Comelec can tap a few keys and voila the thing is compromised. It’s really nothing more mysterious than an ATM-like system with encryption and close to fail-safe integrity. It’s only in the movies that the executable code can be hacked by cleverly guessing a password.

    As for the timing, I think Comelec was 95% along the way to an automated counting and data transmission system in Jan 2004 when ITF and Gus Lagman were shocked to learn they suddenly WON a suit in the Supreme Court over contract irregularities by Comelec. But DOST even vouched for the systems. Granted, there was an invalid contract, but I thought it was suspicious killing it in January, 2004, right at the start of the campaign.

    But even if automation is done 2010, the bigger problem is that the politicians will sabotage it all the way, like 2004.

    If as you suggest Comelec does “one more” election in 2007, and it seems to work, they’ll stay with that and cheat the 2010 election! Or more likely, whoever loses will cry “I was cheated” all over again.

    I think cheating is best handled not as moral problem requiring moral men at the helm. Automation would simply remove the 90% of the “occasion of sin,” the opportunity or even possibiliity of cheating. But to Carl’s point, automation cannot prevent stuff like BLOCK VOTING, as in Makati.

  20. Rizalist,unless we do an automated election in 2007 or just forget it if we have to go through it the primitive way.
    having an election in the primitive way that “offers” itself to be manipulated is probably the disaster fvr is taking about.
    how can we even bare the thought of another manual election!

  21. While our society remains feudal, there is certainly a danger that block voting can be used by political machineries and local warlords to score slamdunks and shut out their opponents. It can happen in Makati. And in the Ilocos provinces. And in Pangasinan. It can happen in Cebu and, of course, Mindanao. But Mindanao, despite the bad rap, isn’t the only hotbed where cheating occurs. As a matter of fact, more often than not, cheating is worse elsewhere. It’s just that, because of the distance and the delay, Mindanao can make the difference after all the returns elsewhere are already in. As a finishing touch, it can be useful in close elections. This has been utilized by politicians for a long, long time. It is not a new phenomenon.

  22. Whatever software component to be used for the elections, it should be open source. As Linus Torvalds said, ‘with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow’. Also, there should still be a paper ballot, handy when it comes to recounts. I mentioned in a previous post that i hope the IT Providers would get together and treat this project as a public service, no profiteering, just like one would in supporting the Olympics or the Seagames for that matter.

  23. Anyone…for national positions, is it required by law to go through provincial canvassing? Technically it’s feasible to transmit the results from precinct straight to the central counting facility to avoid delay and in-transit fraud, but would that be legal?

  24. If cheating in the Philippines is acknowledged here to be endemic, so that if given the opportunity any candidate for office especially in a close contest would succumb to it as a rule of thumb, should anyone really wonder the other cheats in the House have shown no compunction to throw out the impeachment rap against President Arroyo that’s based essentially on election cheating?

    If voters by many accounts have been known to take bribes or other forms of payments, material or otherwise, to cast their ballots one way or the other, wasn’t it possible that by the same standard of scruples they saw no impeachable offense in the “Hello Garci” tapes after all?

    And if impeachment ultimately is a political un-election process, shouldn’t the rather muted response to the impeachment debacle be seen as some contorted form of civil disobedience against the call for the People Power?

    In the whole, aren’t the people saying: why condemn just one woman in the dock, if the whole nation is guilty?

    What’s my answer? President Arroyo should be made to pay for her “lapse in judgment” because of her express promise of moral uprightness following the ouster of a supposedly morally corrupt predecessor. President Estrada lost his moral ascendancy to govern, Cardinal Sin asserted and the people appeared to have shared and so acted primarily on the basis of such an assertion. So, to me, what’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. Not to apply that same measure is just another cheating.

  25. Ah! you have too much faith in automating.

    Automated security are like burglar alarms which are meant to deter the unsophisticated ones or those lacking the know-how.

    Even the ultra secretive NSA had trouble keeping on top of security in information technology. Hackers can compromise election results. Filipino hackers will have a field day, either just the fun of it or getting part of the free flowing election money.

    The 1st world democratic countries have seen no need of automating. As long as there is cheating as in Philippine politics way of life, relying on automating is giving people a false sense of security.

    By the way, you don’t need techies to do the cheating. One can bring down an electrical grid to cause power failure enough time to manipulate the numbers.

  26. Integrity of automating is as good as the official who will oversee security. It will more than tickle Rizalist if Davide will be that official. That is just to illustrate a point for Rizalist’s faith in automating.

  27. Dodong, when you say that the ‘1st world democratic countries have no need of automating’, i think you’re forgetting what happened in the 1st world state of Florida during the 2000 US Presidential elections and that whole ‘hanging chads’/’butterfly ballot’ episode. Six years later, the whole world is still living with the consequences of that fiasco.

    Anyhow, automation is a critical part of the solution to speed up the delivery of election results. As long as the technology is not ‘black box’ (like those Diebold machines in Ohio) and open to examination/audit leaving a paper trail etc etc, it will help. No faith involved, just straightforward systems engineering and common sense.

  28. Abe, you’ve set-up quite a ‘reverse strawman’ – building up a strong, credible case for the other side and then showing us where it breaks down.. Socrates would be proud.

  29. cvj, i did not forget the hanging chad of Florida. You are exaggerating, the whole world is not living with imagined consequences. Filipinos are dramatic. Unlike Filipinos, Americans graciously accept the presidency of Bush even the fact that he lost the popular vote to Gore, but a superb argument for no popular mandate in a Philippine political scenario.

    Florida mechanical machine is replaced with electronic voting machines in two forms (1) a marksense paper ballot that can be read by a scanner, or (2) a direct recording device via a touch screen. Again, there are security issues on both forms but it did not concern the state. That security issues can be exploited well in the Philippines knowing the Filipino political mentality.

    The decision of electronic media in Florida is for clarity and not for fraud. Electronic voting machines can be manipulated if there is fraudulent intention.

    You have to remember there is no foolproof system in the face of criminal intention.

  30. The hanging chads led to a Statewide recount, which was never completed because the US Supreme Court, in a controversial decision, voted 5-4 to stop the process. This meant that Bush was allowed to be the President, and when September 11 happened, he used this as justification for invading Iraq which resulted in the deaths, so far of 2000+ US Soldiers and 180,000 Iraqis, not to mention creating a training ground for future terrorists who will probably fan out across the world at some point. Hardly imagined much less an exaggeration.

  31. There you are, you just proved my point.

    Americans can accept their President (even for very contentious issue like the hanging chad in Florida) and move forward. But not the Filipinos who like to bring down the whole country or change the constitution until the leader is replaced.

    You can’t even resolved your own local leadership much less comment on foreign government.

  32. I think everything boils down to attitude in things.Automation is not a cure-all but it is certainly a way to improve a voting system that is open to manipulation.
    Sure, there will always be cheating.But our obligation is to make it harder to do it.
    I’m sure that there are people who have “mastered the art” of cheating in our present system.
    So what do we do about it?
    It seems that we lack the sence of being practical in things.
    Maybe it’s also the reason we get frustrated because we don’t have parctical approaches to problems.
    We let “politics” decide on everything.
    We tend to politisize everything & anything.
    We don’t seem to think of what we can gain in automation & the problems that can be solved but highlight the negative.
    It’s no surprise that we go nowhere cause maybe we are missing something.
    We are so forever “personality” centered. & never look at the big picture.
    What are we showing the future generation? Revenge is important,Getting even is important,rightousnes justifiest anything,any kind of proof is ok,perceptions count,popularity is indespensable.
    I admire people in the blog here who are well read to say the least.
    But what is theory w/o knowing how to relate it to present realities.
    Just like a brillant professor but can’t communicate to the students.

  33. Regarding the Florida election fiasco, I remember reposting an old blog in John Nery’s Newsstand sometime ago but I just don’t remember now under what topic. Anyway a portion of the blog, which I hope will add something to the issue at hand, runs thus:


    There is no question in my mind that in America today elites dominate the social, cultural, economic and political life of the nation. They are no different from the founding fathers who were themselves wellborn, wealthy and the intellectual, and therefore atypical of the Americans of the new nation. So are the Filipino elites today from the ilustrados. The marked difference that I could see is that, traditionally, American elites would do everything possible to avoid impugning the integrity of the system. Americans do this by refraining to inspire mass fears that could develop into extremist movements. Hence, rather than resorting to or encouraging protest actions, they prefer to seek redress through legal or procedural means. This was the same tradition the Filipino elites had attempted to emulate until Marcos changed the rules of the game by overturning the system and placing it under a dictatorial regime. The authority of Marcos’ reign had then become a fair game for challenge both by the traditional elites and the masses, indeed two very unlikely forces to unite together on political issues. At the very critical moments of the first EDSA uprising, a broader spectrum of the Philippine society had in fact decided to coalesce to avoid a bloody revolt.

    In the Philippines, people power was thus legitimized and institutionalized as an accepted mode of redress against a floundering system. Sections 15 of Article XIII of the Constitution promulgated after the EDSA uprising, expressly recognizes “the role of independent people’s organizations to enable the people to pursue and protect, within democratic framework, their legitimate and collective interests and aspirations through peaceful and lawful means.” Section 16 of the same Article also provides for the establishment of “adequate consultation mechanisms” to ensure the “right of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political and economic decision making . . ..” Mass actions in the Philippines in the form of rallies and demonstrations have since then become less and less of a deviant mode to preserve and protect democratic values and institutions.

    In America, this guardian’s role of preserving its political system is still reserved to the elites who assume that the masses are for the most part passive and apathetic. Not until the excruciating political chaos the nation experienced during the Florida elections debacle, elections in America had become rather a symbolic exercise of political participation to give America’s elites the appearance of legitimacy. But then, with just about a couple of hundred votes that separated Vice President Gore and Governor Bush from the presidency, Americans painfully came to grips with the realization that every vote of the individual particle of sovereignty counted. And while the preferred modality to resolve the various election controversies has remained through the traditional route, meaning legal and procedural as what took place in Florida, there were then visible pockets of mass actions or individual citizen efforts emanating from the grassroots and exerting, as they did, appreciable strains upon the prevailing approach.

    What appears to be under the crucible in America following a presidential election that required the majority decision of five Supreme Court justices voting strictly along partisan lines to install a president is the ability of the dominant elites to maintain the legitimacy of its governance as the American people begin to awake from their stupor and reassess their participation in that governance ….

    In the Philippines, the function, ironically, of people power as a predictable source of stability for a crumbling elite system is the one that is under real scrutiny. If people power could be marshaled effectively such that people power participants are truly represented not only in the “parliaments of the streets” but also in “the committee rooms and the boardrooms” where national policies and programs could be defined and promulgated through genuine consensus, then democracy as we understand it today is likelier to thrive in the Philippines than in America. What will continue to take hold, as the underlying system in America despite its nascent reawakening, would still be democratic elitism.


    cjv, thanks for the compliment but honestly, I’ve not intended to sound Socratic; perhaps, I’ve just been inspired by the caliber of Manolo’s blogs and his other commentaries that he tags and the equally sophisticated responses by most of the commenters here.

  34. After reading in this link some information about the machines the indians used in their recent elections, I find that it could be customized and can be used in the Philippine setting too. If it was able to handle 700 million voters using 1 million of these machines, it can definitely handle voting in the Philippines!

    It seems that it’s technology is something like what’s used in the popular magic sing karaoke microphones. (You know, the songs are stored in chips, not in CDs or tapes. So chips can be programmed to store the Candidates, etc.).

    It’s battery operated, and has a good track record of handling the Indian elections! It’s totally out of the box thinking. From what I read, I already like it.

  35. Dodong, i think it’s fair game to comment on the US government considering its influence extends beyond its own borders. Since we cannot vote for the US President, that is in fact the only thing we non-US Citizens can do…

  36. As “a high-tech, electronics industry veteran”, I can confidently state that there is inherently a vast improvement when using AVMs vs manual electoral processes. Whereas there is always room for criminals to beat any system, automating data retrieval and storage is a huge step in making life extremely difficult for the potential manipulator.

    The fears expressed in here about AVMs seemingly reflect the very same Luddite resistance the last time this issue came around in early 2003/4. Guys, forgive me, but this part of the debate is ridiculous. The only reason to go manual is because one can;t afford machines. Otherwise, it’s a no-brainer.

    dodong and Abe — Although you were making different points, it seems that you have both misread the facts in the US. Fortunately or unfortunately, Bush won Florida in 2000. This has been shown by several post-election, independent research bodies that were either bipartisan, “independent” and/or even pro-Democrats (using “hanging chads” and the like in the equation). And if there was any resulting outrage (to Bush’s win) or determination (to make one’s vote count) in 2004, then one must consider that the 2004 had a historically high voter turn-out…and Bush won by even a wider margin. The “Florida Hijack” theorem has been dismissed by almost all non-partisan investigators. Michael Moore stands virtually alone these days…..

    Abe — I appreciate how you have tried to relate the US and the Philippines’ situation, but…claiming that the US is dominated by elites (dating back to the founding fathers) who use the law as a means to avoid mass disruption? If you’d like, I’ll take you up on that debate.

    To start with, I’ll toss this out — America’s “elite” keeps changing; there is much socio-economic migration (both up and down) between the upper and various middle-class entities. Meanwhile, errant members of “today’s elite” are jailed tomorrow. So…how again is the elite using the law to essentially defraud the general public of the truth (if I have understood your position correctly)?

    I believe you might be misinterpreting the role that the law plays in American society. In a nation which champions the individual (vs the more globally-dominant view that the family/community/church is society’s centerpiece), the law is the only way a rich and/or poor man’s “independence” can be “protected”. Blood and community-related ties/interactions (the roots of pakikisama and utang na loob) are minimalized in the US system…and the cold, (mostly, usually) balanced scales of justice are the defense mechanisms for each individual’s right to be his own kind of individual.

    The bottom line is that America’s system is unique…and uniquely applicable to the US’ unique value system. It may be best to leave the Americans out of the analysis when one is contemplating the best solution (or clearest parallel) for the Philippines…..

  37. Geo, i’m with you when it comes to the value of automation, but as a fellow industry veteran, i’m sure you’ll agree with me that implementation details matter. Electronic input without generating a paper ballot at the precinct level will not inspire confidence. Also, proprietary software/firmware which cannot be reviewed for bugs/hidden flaws may allow the
    vendors to conspire with unscrupulous politicians. Transparency and auditability/traceability are key attributes.

  38. Geo,

    Criticizing media elites in general and reacting to a commenter, I once blogged on or about the Florida electoral fiasco, as follows:

    Media organizations … operate for the most part rather insidiously when they attempt to set agendas that could have national implications. They pass on their undertaking, in reality in pursuit of self interest, as a noble quest for truth. This is a truism nowhere truer in any other place than in America—the newly found pride of our kababayan Anastacio.

    Apparently, our apostate poster whose nasty piece about the political and social follies of Filipinos has amused the Pinoy web community—seemed to believe many things that have been communicated to him by the mass media operating in his lofty and immaculate USA and, on the basis of which, he formed certain values by which he would put down Filipinos. If only Anastacio were a little more perceptive and circumspect, it would have not been that challenging for him to realize that while both the Gore and the Bush campaigns have invoked the concept of rule of law to capture the power of the US presidency, pre- and post-election news, commentaries, and even judicial rulings in the US have carried insidious slants and spins as well as legal maneuverings and manipulations in a manner that had all the trimmings of a constitutional hypocrisy befitting only a banana republic in disguise. On the other hand, other relevant stories that would have the effect of impugning the exalted foundation of American society, like the reports of intimidation and voter-lists purging of minority voters in Florida, have not been given sufficient attention.

    Well, like the “little brown brothers” that some Filipinos have unfortunately become, our media has willingly emulated America’s sinister model of thought manipulation. And so also, as in the US, Filipinos would compensate more generously spin doctors and political media practitioners than the old-fashioned, adventurous, and romantic newsman whose “basic responsibility,” Prof. Teodoro underscored in a speech, “is to get the information out, and, to the extent possible, to disseminate information that is accurate, fair and complete.”

    On the day the US Supreme Court handed down Bush v. Gore, Jesse Jackson, Jr. issued a statement, a portion of which reads:

    In third world countries when democratically cast votes are not counted, or the person who most likely lost wins in a highly questionable manner, we usually refer to that as a coup d’etat — the overthrow of a government, usually by a small group of persons. All legal votes in Florida were not counted. If they had been counted, there is at least a strong possibility that Vice President Gore would have received the most votes in Florida as he did in the country — which is why the Bush people did not want the votes counted. Even more important than partisan politics, the votes should have been counted in the name of democracy in order to give the maximum amount of credibility and legitimacy to the eventual winner.

    After the Soviet Union collapsed, many of its satellites fell. In the case of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel became the new President on the basis of a legitimate people uprising and a democratic “Velvet Revolution.” In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court orchestrated a questionable ‘velvet legal coup.’

    Of course before the Velvet Revolution of Yeltsin or Vaclav Havel, and the fall of the other Soviet satellites, the Sandinistas defeat by Violeta Chammoro’s coalition, or the uprising in Tiananmen Square, there was the “Lady in Yellow” who inspired the original People Power at EDSA. But today the EDSA uprising as the paradigmatic representation of People Power is continually being attenuated – for obvious reason: of the above enumerated, it was the only revolution of such dimension that successfully has removed a US-backed dictator.

    Justice Stevens’ dissent in Bush v. Gore has been shamefully scornful of things yet to come: “One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

    And here’s what Greg Palast (so it was not only Michael Moore, Geo) has written: “Five months before the November 2000 election, Governor Jeb Bush moved to purge 57, 700 people from the voter rolls, supposed criminals not allowed to vote. Most were innocent of crimes, but the majority were guilty of being black.”

    92.02 per cent, Palast insisted, of those in the “srub” list are innocent and overwhelmingly democrats; and relying on BBC researchers, he further maintained Gore lost about 22,000 votes as a result. 22,000 are more than 537.

    Since this particular blog of Manolo is on the subject of “collusion” of the political elites in the Philippines, Filipinos might well find it relevant to draw from it certain parallelism with the manner the high-handed activism of the US Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore has resulted in what could be considered as an exercise of one of the highest forms of American elitism. If Bush was confident about democracy in Florida, why did his conservative allies in the Supreme Court voting strictly along ideological lines stop the recount in Florida and in effect elected him the next U.S. president?

    The Philippine Supreme Court has shown the same extreme tendencies in recent holdings and foremost that comes to mind is the ruling in Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representative as well as the Court’s vacillation in the Mining Law cases, both decisions (not to speak of Estrada v. Desierto) being, for all intents and purposes, amendatory of the provisions of the Constitution sans the benefit of a Charter change process. What else is more elitist than that?

    Now the proposition: America’s “elite” keeps changing; there is much socio-economic migration (both up and down) between the upper and various middle-class entities. Meanwhile, errant members of “today’s elite” are jailed tomorrow. So…how again is the elite using the law to essentially defraud the general public of the truth?

    First of all, Madison, the father of the American constitution, was categorical in classic elite terms “that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more in consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves.” Madison believed that if unchecked, the majority, that is, the uneducated and the unpropertied Americans, would tyrannize the minority—the privileged, the wellborn and the wealthy, like him. And if it hasn’t been noticed, when Americans go to the polls during the presidential elections, they vote for Electors not the presidential candidates; or when you have federal judges appointed for life, how else could migration be allowed during the judges’ lifetime?

    Second of all, I have yet to see the Americans follow the Philippine example of jailing an erring president for corruption, defrauding or misleading the nation or other high crimes.

    I agree that the nature of elite system allows upward mobility of non-elites yet this process, in a pyramidal and hierarchical system, is definitely a creeping one. But even those non-elites who have been welcomed to the club must agree to the elite consensus, i.e., they are stakeholders in the system in which their privileges depend. At least in the Philippines, the party-list system has somehow remedied this anomaly.

    Leave the Americans out of the analysis when one is contemplating the best solution for the Philippines? Well, tell that to AGILE, the Venable wheeler-dealers, and the agents responsible for the “leaked” Aragoncillo dossiers.

  39. “The level of security and verification needed is really not much higher than the banking system. What I mean by this is that if we trust the banking system with our money, and would be happy with the level of data security available at a reputable bank, we can trust the systems that run banks to secure the vote too.” –> Rizalist

    Point well-taken.

    Are we just going to put up with the traditional way just because we are too scared to try this new technology? To think that this have already been practiced by other countries, we should at least be broaden our minds a bit. If there’s somebody who wants to hack the system, there would always be the security system to block them. If only dead guys can complain, they’ll be complaining how their names have constantly being used every election period.

    What’s good about automation, the result of the election can be known the same day. We’ll be spared from waiting too long just to know our new leaders. Maybe, those who are opposing are the ones who still want to use dead people’s names to vote for them next election.

  40. “President Arroyo should be made to pay for her “lapse in judgment” because of her express promise of moral uprightness following the ouster of a supposedly morally corrupt predecessor.” –> Abe

    Erap underwent due process. Arroyo underwent due process too. The only difference is that the impeachment complaints filed against her was found to be insufficient in form and substance. The ones to be blamed were the petitioners. Or, it could be that, there are no sufficient or admissible evidences anyway. Whatever reasons there are, whoever’s in the hot seat has the right for due process. What the rule of law says must be acknowledged.

    I’ve read about the CBCP’s pastoral statement. I was moved on the part that talks about ordinary citizen taking sides on the basis of speculation. We’ve been hearing one accusation after another. Even rumors spreading like burning rice field. I agree there’s erosion of moral values in the country. IMHO, most of us are guilty of it. That’s why political chaos keeps on happening. Vote buying have become a tradition because there are still those who allow their votes be bought. Remember, it takes two to tango. Anyway, we all have our own opinion about the controversies. It’s always good to hear a different view. Let’s just be reminded when to step on the brake. By this I mean to remember accusations remains accusations until these are proven to be factual.

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