I am very disappointed with myself for not being able to register as a voter for the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Election. I am disappointed not because I will not be able to fulfill my duty as a citizen of this country. This feeling of disappointment comes from the knowledge that I missed out on what would probably be the most important election in Philippines’ modern history. So for those of you who are registered: Don’t be lazy, wake-up early and be part of this momentous event.
This post will contain my thoughts with regards to the Philippine election… Specifically my thoughts on “Voting as a right and how it affects the current political climate of the Philippines”, “the importance of the automated election and what it signifies” and “what will Gibo’s or Gordon’s victory signify”. Before you start reading, let me remind you that I am in no-way an expert on the topics and legalities of the Philippine election. These are just my idle thoughts; thoughts that were mostly conceived while I’m taking a dump or while stuck at a bus in EDSA.
Voting as a right and how it affects the current political climate of the Philippines
It has been said that the most important right acquired by a citizen of a democratic country is the right to vote. As written in Article V Section 1 of the Philippine constitution of 1987 (Present Constitution):
Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.
So is voting a right? By definition, not exactly. If voting is a ‘right’, especially if you call it a ‘civil right’ then by definition it can not be taken away. Rights can not be lost, for then they would not be ‘rights’. Also, ‘rights’ belong to everyone equally, so if you have any rules about voting, it can not be a ‘right’. Many countries, including the Philippines, have a minimum voting age. Not only that, there are also clause that prohibits one from voting if one has not resided in the Philippines for at least a year.
If voting is not a right, is voting a privilege? By definition, yes. We have in our constitution a well-defined set of rules on how one can earn or lose this “privilege” to vote. However, literacy nor social status (being rich or poor) is not part of those rules.
One would then argue, why not make literacy part of the rules to earn or lose the right to vote? If voting is the most important right in a democratic country and if the future of a nation relies heavily on the appointed leaders, why leave it at the hands of people who are not “educated enough” to make an informed choice?
In the late 19th century, the government of the United States of America enforced a Poll Tax (a discriminatory tax that is a pre-condition of the exercise of the ability to vote) to disfranchise the African-American and Native American voters as well as poor whites who immigrated after the year specified.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not proposing that we don’t let the poor people vote. I am merely proposing a system wherein votes from people who are “literate” enough to make money to pay their taxes will “weigh” more than the votes of the people who are not able to get a job to pay their taxes. I understand that this is a flawed system, in such a way that “money” doesn’t truly represent one’s ability to make an “informed” decision with regards to choosing the next leaders of this country, but this is an “easy” and straight-forward rule to implement. We can’t let people take an I.Q. test before they are allowed to vote, right? Even then, one could argue that an I.Q. test is not a true measurement of one’s ability to make an informed decision. How about a pop quiz about the candidates then?
The problem with defining rules on how one can earn or lose the “privilege” to vote is that it will always be flawed but we should at least implement a system wherein the votes from certain “classes” of people in the society that is perceived to have the ability to make good informed decisions will weigh more than the votes from certain “classes” of people in the society that is perceived to vote by “preference” (popularity, religious affiliation, race, etc).
Yes, I know it’s complicated. I also understand that we can’t really quantify the ability of a person or group of persons to make an “informed decision”. We even haven’t started to define what entails an “informed decision”. Personally, I don’t even consider myself qualified to make an “informed decision” on who to vote as the next president. Maybe we should just follow other countries and leave the voting to “solons”?
The reason why I brought this up is because our current constitution allows for the likes of Eddy Gil (and some of the current presidential bets) to run for president (Under Article 7, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution, in order to serve as President, one must be at least 40 years of age, a registered voter, able to read and write, a Filipino citizen by birth, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding election.). Our constitution failed to give a more thorough “selection process” on who to allow to run for president. Yes, the COMELEC do label some of them as nuisance candidates but the criteria is very vague.
All I’m saying is, if the constitution allows unqualified people to run for office, how can we even expect people to take voting seriously? How can we expect them to make an “informed decision”? The combination of allowing unqualified yet popular people to run for office and allowing uneducated voters who votes by popularity will always result to a sad failure. The situation is worsened by the fact that 90% of the Filipino people belongs to the Class C and D income specification (the MASA). The MASA is known to vote by popularity and not by capability. Even if the remaining 10% will vote wisely, it will never ever win against the 90%. However, if we create a system wherein only “qualified” men and women will be allowed to run for office, the 90%-10% divide would no longer matter because whoever wins will be qualified for the job.
The way I see it, there are two ways to solve this problem:
- Create a system wherein votes coming from people who are known to make “informed decision” to weigh more than the votes of people who are known to only vote by “preference”.
- Create a more thorough “selection process” so that only qualified men and women will be allowed to run for office.
The importance of the automated election
Let me begin by quoting Chairman Jose Melo of the COMELEC:
We are finally moving away from the known flaws and weaknesses of the old ways of doing things and toward an automated election system that promises a speedy and accurate count, a highly efficient reporting mechanism that democratizes the count and canvass of election results, and most importantly, the extinction of dagdag-bawas (vote padding and vote shaving)
Automation is a good thing. It represents progress. It represents change. Did you know that in the entire South-east Asian region, the Philippines would be the first to implement a fully legally binding electronic voting using voting machines? This map from Competence Center for Electronic Voting and Participation shows the global proliferation and use of electronic voting machines:
Note that the white part are the countries that have not yet implemented E-voting (this was published last Feb. 2010 so the Philippines was not included), the yellow part are the countries currently testing or considering E-voting and the green part are the countries that have successfully conducted a legally binding electronic voting with voting machines.
So according to the map, China have not yet even considered E-voting, while South Korea is still considering E-Voting and Japan have successfully conducted E-Voting. If the automated election tomorrow will be a success, Philippines will join the ranks of 1st world countries such as USA, Japan and Australia. The eyes of our fellow Asian neighbors will be on us tomorrow as we set the stage for proving that E-Voting in a large scale and a small budget could be possible.
The success of the automated election is very important because it will signify the re-entry of the Philippines, and of the Filipino People, to the global race for modernization.
Let me tell you, there are a lot of unqualified, laypeople who don’t really understand the science of Computer Security and encryption that discredits the automated election. I have spent the last couple of days reading news and laughing at laypeople while they make shame of themselves by talking about something that they don’t really understand.
However, I’ll be honest and admit that I have not conducted proper research about the PCOS machine and its technical details. I have searched online for the technical details of said PCOS machine but I haven’t found anything but let me tell you this: I have more confidence in a counting system being performed by machines and that was reviewed by *real* international experts that will have nothing to gain in making false claims, than in a counting system being performed by humans that are prone in making mistakes because they are hungry, irritated, tired, and just-want-to-get-home, plus the fact that they can have biases, lapse in judgment and be bought by dirty politicians.
I am not arguing that there is no possibility of cheating or “errors” in an automated system. I am just merely arguing that the probability of having such unwanted behaviors is way higher in a manual system than in an automated system. As an added bonus, the automated election will be faster too!
The success of the automated election will represent a collective change in the way of thinking of the Filipino people and of the Philippines as a nation. Moving away from flawed traditional ways to a more efficient, effective and modern ways.
My presidential candidate
Before I begin, let me quote my schoolmate who’s a genius at making offensive comments:
There are only three types of people in the Philippines:
- Gordon Supporters
- Gibo Supporters
Sometimes, I can’t help but think that people voting for the other presidential candidates are
morons being misled. Having said that, let me just say that I respect your opinion.
If you haven’t noticed yet, you’re either living under a rock or living in a remote province that is out of reach of local media. In one hand, we have the other leading presidential candidates (Yellow and Orange) battling it out on TV land to have the most number of political ads shown. On the other, we seldom see Gibo or Gordon political ads in T.V. Why is that? Because Gibo and Gordon are like Apple. They don’t really rely on traditional “marketing”. They have their legion of crazy fanboys and fangirls who battle it out on social media land. Their supporters write blogs to promote their candidate, using reason and logic to convince people, not addictive jingles and feel-good messages (another reason why they don’t do 30-second ads, its just not enough time to deliver a coherent and convincing argument). That is one of the reasons why I believe that the supporters of these candidates are more “intellectually” inclined than the others.
Also, if you will profile their supporters, most of them are either students or part of the white-collar “working class”. Both Gibo and Gordon have a weaker influence on the other 90% of the Filipino population, the MASA. Which is understandable because the “MASA” will not care if you’re a Harvard graduate or a proven leader with a good track record. They just don’t care. The MASA votes in terms of “familiarity”: Were you poor before? Are you a strong believer of Filipino values? Are you a catholic? Are you popular? The answer to those questions by both candidates will disappoint the masses: Both were born in a well-to-do family. Both have “Americanized” values. Both have not relied on their religious affiliation for popularity and both are not as popular as local celebrities.
A few weeks ago, my company performed a “mock” election for both the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. I was surprised to learn that the Yellow Team won by a really close margin (2-5 votes difference) over the Transformers (Gordon/Bayani). Why would my intelligent colleagues vote for a less capable candidate? I pondered. After reflecting on this, I realized that some people chose the Yellow Team because it makes them feel good about themselves. They “think” that it is the right thing to do. And you really can’t blame them for it. Some people are optimists, they just want a leader with “perceived” trustworthiness; a leader that will boost the moral, albeit temporarily, of the millions of Filipinos who have lost the will to fight. Yes, its a noble cause and that’s why they feel good about it (in the same sense that you feel good about yourself after giving 5 pesos to a beggar).
I, on the other hand, am a pessimist. I don’t believe a single person will have the ability to influence the thousands of corrupt government officials to stop their evil ways. Let’s say Noynoy wins, people will be crying, they will feel good, somehow they see Noynoy as the “second Ninoy”, the “second savior”, it will boost their moral, people will be hugging each other on the streets. It will be like Feb. 25 again. What happens next? Not much. After 100 days, people will be questioning Noynoy. Because of the high expectations placed upon him, people will be deeply disappointed if he didn’t magically eliminate corruption and poverty. Moral goes down again. People will be mad. People will be doubtful. Allegations of corruption and bad governance will crop up. It’s the same sh*t all over again.
If Noynoy wins, it will indicate that the Filipino People do not yet understand what real change means. It will simply illustrate that majority of the population still think using the faulty, traditional way of thinking. Being tricked by the same set of old tricks.
So let me introduce you to my presidential candidate: The “Dick” Gordon. So what’s so great about this guy, you ask? Aside from his proven track record and credentials, this guy is the embodiment of change. This 9 minute video convinced me that he is exactly what the Philippines need:
Watch it. No, finish it! I’ll wait. Done? Okay. Good!
In just 9 minutes, Gordon was able to say the following offensive things:
- Kapag naniniwala ka sa survey, tanga ka (SIC)!
- He dissed Noynoy for being a Mama’s boy
- He made a “negative” comment about Jesus Christ! (JC not being able to end poverty)
- He dissed the entire AQUINO family for not being able to stop corruption
- He praised strongman Marcos for something good that he had said
- Colonial Hangover. Inferiority Complex.
- “Shame on us”
How are these “offensive” sentences an indication of “change”? of something new? Because it represent “something” that we never had on a politician (more so on a president):
- Principle: He stands firmly on what he believes in. He believes that surveys are a big scam and people blindly believing in survey are idiots. He is not afraid to lose votes or make enemies for saying something that he believes in.
- He is not afraid to challenge dogma. He is ready and willing to challenge the traditional and backwards way of thinking.
- He is not afraid of the Catholic church. Separation of church and state? I believe he is the only one we can fully enforce that. For once, let us have a leader who is not being manipulated by men in white robes.
- He is not afraid nor easily influenced by traditional political dynasties. He is not a “tuta” of anyone.
- He is not afraid of public reprisal (and again, challenging social dogma). Aside from the Marcos family, he is the only politician (that is running) that I know of that have publicly acknowledged the late dictator for something good that he have done. In a society that demonized the late president, it takes a lot of courage and conviction to publicly praise Marcos.
- He understands the root of all current cultural and social problems of our nation: Colonial Hangover and Inferiority complex. Before other people can respect us, we should respect ourselves first.
- He honestly and bravely acknowledges the current ills of our society (not sugarcoat it. LOL @ Overpopulation being a “good thing”)
Just like in the success of the automated election, if either Gordon or Gibo wins, it will represent a collective change in the way of thinking of the Filipino people and of the Philippines as a nation. Moving away from the flawed, emotion-driven, dogma-ridden, and traditional way of thinking.