An afterthought

THE election is supposedly our exercise of freedom to choose our leaders. But based on reports, we then ask, “Did the Filipino people exercise their right with no tinkering?” Saying that the right of suffrage is the only equalizer for society’s inequalities could be too good to be true if we know that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is still about to give a satisfactory explanation to the seven-hour delay in the transmission of results. What could have happened in-between? Has there been a negotiation room that had entertained bidders? Was there much bickering among bidders who wanted to rig the election results which lasted seven hours? How many and whose pockets went sack-full of bribes? What really happened behind the curtain? We do not know. Please explain.

We also hear about the number of voting machines that gave up which increased to more than 150% compared to the last 2016 elections. Given the knowledge about the life spans of such equipment upon purchase, how did the COMELEC fail to account on this concern before it happened? How would the commissionmerely act out of anafterthought?

This may explain why I waited for three-and-a-half hours at the Cogon East Elementary School precinct when I cast my vote. The voting odyssey started with a long standing line outside the room which many find very uncomfortable considering the infernal heat of summer. I wonder why the standing line lasted an hour and no one cares to provide seats for us; after that wait and upon entering a room, I was surprised that I had to wait for another long queue—this time, a sitting line that accommodates around 65. I hoped that it would move fast, only to find out that it could last for another two-and-a-half hours until I went to another voting room. The administrators could have opened two rooms for waiting, not just one. Or the commission could have prepared at least four more machines for the school.

Among fellow voters, I overheard a conversion saying, “Maam, your ballot will no longer be accepted by the machine because it had a small ink mark appearing in the white area.” The ink mark was simply a little slip of the pen. To this, the voter retorted, “But can I just have another ballot to correct this?” The election officer denied her request for another ballot. This is an example of a bureaucratic non-sense. There could have been another ballot allowed because one did not take a subject on handling a Pentel pen perfectly, nor can a doctoral degree on perfect pen writing produce such graduates. 

Added to this issue, we also hear of reports about Smartmatic receipts that register other candidates not voted for based on information from voters who elected their leaders abroad. Though not many, this issue still mars the credibility of the electoral system. 

What is not easy to accept is the massive vote buying in some provinces. During one town fiesta after election, a relative heard a non-Boholano averring, “In Bohol, it is all about money.” What a pun.

Stop speculating that voting makes us democratic. No, it makes us slaves.