The general assessment of the 2016 Philippine automated elections is undeniably positive and far better than the past two automated polls in 2010 and 2013, a study by Stratbase ADR Institute showed.
The study, “Technology, Democracy and Elections in the Philippines," was released a year after the 2016 national elections and discusses the relationship between election automation and election turnout, specifically among the youth, and overall credibility.
According to Prof. Franciso Magno, trustee Of the ADR Institute For Strategic And International Studies, the speedy election tally is a major factor for the positive assessment.
"Nawala kasi ung uncertainty noong mga nakaraang panahaon kung sino ang nanalo. Ang end result nito ay mapapalakas natin ang demokrasya," he said.
Magno also gave points for improvement to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC):
- Fully utilize social media to reach the youth and encourage participation in the elections;
- Alternative registration features for indigenous people and persons with disability, including online registration;
- The term "digital signature" should be placed in the law to be defined in an amendment to the Automated Election System law and must place relevant information to make it more transparent.
COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista, meanwhile, believes the study gave a fair assessment of the poll body.
"We are very pleased, and we know this conclusion is not only made by Stratbase... I think international observers have also validated this conclusion and we are pleased with that," he said.
Bautista said they are already taking into consideration the suggestion of the private think-tank, such as voters using "stamps" to mark their ballots instead of shading them, and studying alternative registration avenues for PWDs and indigenous people.
EFFECT ON ELECTION PROTESTS
For political analyst Ramon Casiple, the study's positive review is "immaterial" to defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos' election protest.
"What is happening is the protest is following the same traditional protest and ultimately the problem there is time," he said.
Marcos, who lost by a hairline to Liberal Party candidate Leni Robredo is contesting the latter's victory on allegations of election fraud and anomalies.
Casiple added that the current tactics now involve trying to make the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) move the protest faster.
"The tactics i think now is trying to push the PET to make the protest faster. And that's the reason behind the proposal to have 3 simultaneous commissioners handling the cases but i don't think it will lead to that," he said.
Casiple suggested that the poll body should be active in the discussions on federalism since the electoral system may be drastically changed.
"There is a proposal to bring down the COMELEC functions to the regions... The proposal as it stands now is the senators are elected by region.. so it begets the question 'who counts now'?" he said.