By Herbert Vego
WE wait with bated breath for the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on a petition to ban Smartmatic Philippines Inc. as automation service provider in the forthcoming May 2025 midterm polls.
That’s easier said than done even if one of the petitioners is former commissioner Augusto Lagman, who believes that the Comelec itself had collaborated with Smartmatic in rigging the May 9, 2022 presidential election.
The other petitioners are the members of the so-called Truth & Transparency Trio (TNTrio), composed of former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Eliseo Rio, retired Colonel Leonardo Odoño, and former Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president Franklin Ysaac.
The petition, filed in July 2023 yet, asked the Comelec to ban Smartmatic henceforth because the May 2022 presidential election had been attended by “serious and material irregularities” in the transmission and reception of election results.
Based on information and data coming from the Comelec, the petitioners claimed to have discovered “serious irregularities” involving discrepancies between the transmission logs and reception logs of election returns from the precinct level to the Comelec’s transparency server.
They questioned the “improbability of the number of votes being received by the transparency server immediately after the close of voting last May 9, 2022, given all tasks required to be done by the electoral boards prior to transmittal.”
How, they asked, could 20 million votes be transmitted by some 39,512 vote-counting machines within the first hour, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. of 09 May 2022?
There, too, arises the improbability of President Bongbong Marcos and
Vice President Sara Duterte bagging the majority votes of 31 million-plus and 32-million-plus, respectively, unless there was hocus-pocus involved.
Marcos knocked out the first runner-up, outgoing Vice-Pres. Leni Robredo, who scored only 15-million-plus votes. It is unbelievable. How could that be? Remember that when Marcos and Leni Robredo fought for the vice-presidency in 2016, it was Robredo who won with 14,418,817 votes while Bongbong placed second with 14,155,344.
No wonder the petitioners have also filed a petition before the Supreme Court for preservation of the transmission logs to enable them to prove any discrepancy between the transparency server and the central server.
The Comelec has agreed to abide by any order to be handed down by the Supreme Court.
No Nostradamus could predict how the Supreme Court would resolve the issue. For now, however, the best that could arise out of the aforesaid issues is the perpetual banning of Smartmatic from handling future elections. We’d better go back to slow-but-sure manual counting.
Hope springs eternal for clean and honest elections, at last.
A SLEEPY BARANGAY LIGHTS UP
IN an episode of the video-radio show “MORE Power at Your Service,” host Joy Fantilaga immersed herself in the “electric” lifestyle of 42 families living under a socialized housing program in Barangay East Baluarte, Molo, Iloilo City during the past three years.
One thing that the people shared with her was their literal rise from insufficiency to sufficiency of electricity. Prior to the takeover of MORE Power from the previous distribution utility (DU) in 2020, they could hardly do their daily chores uninterrupted by brownouts.
“We often reeled from low voltage,” revealed barangay captain John Gray Patnubay. “Around 90 percent of residents had no electric meters, hence had to illegally connect.”
Very few had sub-meters attached to a metered power consumer.
Another resident revealed, “We attached to a neighbor’s line and paid a fixed monthly rate.”
“Jumpers” were everywhere, leading to system’s loss that provoked the then DU to overcharge legal users through padded billings.
“There was a time when I was billed ₱48,000,” a housewife lamented. “That was unbelievable because my previous bills averaged only ₱800. I refused to pay.”
Today, it’s the other way around. All power lines are metered and have been upgraded by the new DU. Safety is ensured through updated inspections.
Kap Patnubay said he had been personally helping his people avail themselves of MORE Power’s “I-Konek” program, which refers to coordination between the distribution utility and the city government to qualify everybody for meter connection in three easy steps.
The first step is to coordinate with the barangay hall for meter application; second, to seek the approval of the city engineer, which has a sub-office at Hotel del Rio beside MORE Power’s customer-care office; third, to pay a bill deposit of more or less ₱2,500 depending on the estimated monthly consumption; and fourth, installation of metered line.
The good news is that they could get a refund of the said bill deposit after three years of religious payment of monthly bills.
ANOTHER PALANCA AWARD FOR AN ANTIQUEÑO
I have lost count of the times that a fellow Antiqueño from the capital town of San Jose has won Palanca Awards for his literary masterpieces in our Kinaray-a dialect. I refer to Ritchie D. Pagunsan, a certified public accountant in New York City.
But another first prize he is about to receive from the Carlos Palanca Foundation is for an Ilonggo short story, “Kauhaw sa Tingadlaw,” which will be among the winning works to be included in the anthology to be known as “Archived Treasury of Literary Gems.”
The awards ceremony is slated to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City on November 27, 6 p.m.