Amidst all the black propaganda thrown at Noynoy Aquino, the specter of a failure of elections, and the rumored plan to cheat him and deny him the presidency, people were expecting the worst to happen. But that didn’t hinder their resolve to do their part. Instead, the looming chaos brought out the best in the Filipino people.
It didn’t stop them from patiently waiting for hours at the precincts to cast their vote. And it didn’t dampen their spirits to overcome all imaginable obstacles to prevent them from exercising their constitutional right to vote. Long lines, broken PCOS machines, brownouts, boiling summer heat, violence, vote-buying, harassment, you name it -- they faced them all, unwilling to give up their sovereign right.
There were reasons for the elections to have gone wrong. But in the end, the people prevailed. Their collective voice was heard loud and clear, and their steel-willed determination was felt: they want CHANGE. And CHANGE they will get.
What happened on Election Day, May 10, 2010, was unlike previous elections. It was the first time that elections were automated. It was a big change from the antiquated manual system where only the moneyed cheaters won. As they say about Philippine elections: “There are no losers, only the winners and those who were cheated.” Indeed.
On Election Day, the traditional cheaters found themselves boxed in and unable to perform their dirty tricks. They tried but they didn’t get beyond first base. There were just too many poll watchers and watchdog groups who kept vigil in every precinct, ready to report cheating incidents and take video shots of suspicious activities with their cell phones’ video. In one precinct, a vote-buyer was caught on video handing money to a voter. He was immediately arrested by the police.
As it turned out, the elections were relatively peaceful, orderly, and not as problematic as most people predicted. Yes, there were problems but they were not insurmountable.
What could have gone wrong?
With all the red flags raised about possible massive cheating similar to the 2004 elections, the people braced for all the things that could go wrong. But in spite of that, the people turned out in large numbers at the polls. It was estimated that voter turnout was 85%. That is the good news. The bad news, however, is that disenfranchisement was very high which could have affected some tightly contested races such as the vice presidential race where Jejomar Binay surged past Mar Roxas by 800,000 votes. With about five million votes yet to be transmitted to Comelec from remote precincts, the election could be won “by a hairline.” However, in the case of the presidential race, it would be statistically improbable for Joseph “Erap” Estrada to beat Noynoy Aquino who was about five million votes ahead of Erap.
Reports of plots by some groups associated with certain candidates to rig the elections abounded. Incidence of “flying voters” (duplicate registrations) and “zombie voters” (dead voters) were documented -- estimated as many as five million -- by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) two months before the elections. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) promised to do something about it. As to whether the voters’ list was purged of flying and zombie voters remains to be seen. However, the indelible ink marked on the voters’ hands would deter them from voting more than once.
There were rumors that the “source code” was fixed programmatically to perform an automated dagdag-bawas (add-subtract) cheating operation to benefit the administration candidate, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, or Gloria’s reputed “secret” candidate, Manny Villar. This rumor gained credibility when a “glitch” was discovered -- or uncovered -- during test runs of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in Occidental Mindoro and Muntinglupa City less than a week prior to Election Day.
What happened was 10 ballots were marked for Aquino and another 10 for Villar. When the PCOS machines’ paper tapes were printed to verify the tests, 20 votes were tallied for Teodoro and zero for both Aquino and Villar. This would indicate that the memory cards (Compact Flash cards) installed in the PCOS machines were programmed to subtract (bawas) votes from Aquino and Villar and add (dagdag) them to Teodoro. For Teodoro to gain at least 10 million votes in order to beat Aquino and Villar, he needed 20,000 PCOS machines with the “Trojan horse” memory cards with each PCOS machine shaving a total of 500 votes from Aquino and Villar and adding them to Teodoro. If the “glitch” was not discovered, then it would be plausible to presume that there were at least 20,000 “Trojan horse” memory cards installed in PCOS machines in selected precincts ready to perform “electronic Garci” cheating on Election Day.
The timely discovery of the “glitch” forced Smartmatic-TIM, the Automated Election System (AES) contractor, to recall all 76,000 memory cards already installed, and reconfigure them with the corrected “source code.” Although there was not enough time to re-test all 76,000 memory cards (only three were actually re-tested), it would be too risky for Smartmatic-TIM to re-enter the original memory cards with the “glitch” in the PCOS machines. However, there was one known incident where a precinct was “inadvertently” given back the original memory card with the “glitch” instead of the “reconfigured” memory card. Makes one wonder why Smartmatic-TIM did not destroy all the 76,000 bad memory cards before delivering the “reconfigured” memory cards; thus, avoid the possibility of inadvertent or advertent switching.
The question is: Was Teodoro privy to the plot to cheat in the elections? In my opinion, he was not privy to it. However, whoever the perpetrators were, their motivation would be to profit from a Teodoro presidency, politically and financially.
Act of divine providence
One of my readers commented that the discovery of the “glitch” in the memory cards must have been an act of divine providence. Could you imagine what would have happened if the “glitch” was not discovered? It would have been the perfect election cheating operation with no iota of hard evidence to challenge the fraudulently generated results.
What went right on Election Day would change the way elections would be handled in the future. Automation is one thing but without moral values to adhere to, elections in the Philippines would always be as corrupt as it had been since 1949, when the only way to win an election was to cheat.
The election of Noynoy will usher in the dawn of a new era of hope… and change. Let’s hope that the long episode of corruption and moral decadence in the past nine years shall be put to an end, never to recur again. Let’s hope that the ideals of the EDSA “People Power” revolution of 1986 shall be rekindled and become the guiding beacon for our new president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, to lead us to peace and prosperity. Let’s hope that our nation shall once again regain its pride and glory like it did in 1986. Let’s close ranks and give Noynoy the support he needs to clean up the mess left by the corrupt regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And last but not the least, let’s exorcise the “demons” within us that have been gnawing away at the core of our moral values. As a popular saying goes, “The leader can only be as good as the people he leads.” Yes, indeed.
At the end of the day, the sovereign of the people can only be held supreme when the people rein in those who would dare violate their sovereignty.