POSTSCRIPT / March 2, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Redesign ballot to look like Lotto betting card

BIG GAMBLE: Since most Filipinos take elections as just another big gamble and vote for whoever looms like a winner regardless of merit, let us redesign the ballot to look like a Lotto betting card so voters/gamblers will feel at home filling it out.

Then if the delicate poll computers of Smartmatic falter in the heat and dust of the countryside, the Commission on Elections can borrow for data transmission the Lotto machines long deployed nationwide by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

In the redesign of the yard-long ballot, I suggest we add options for LP (Lucky Pick), NOTA (None of the Above), OTA (All of the Above), and VOID (if an exasperated voter calls it quits or changes his mind).

May I suggest also that taller writing tables/desks be brought in so voters do not step on the lower edge of the long ballot (and thus invalidate it) while still figuring out the choices in the upper part.

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VOTING VARIATIONS: Those who think the candidates are all the same anyway (“parepareho lang sila”) can shade the LP (Lucky Pick) oval and leave the random voting to the tender mercies of the computer.

Anybody fed up with the farcical exercise can shade the NOTA (None of the Above) oval in protest. He can also shade the VOID oval as his statement of flushing down the toilet the entire caboodle of candidates.

You might ask why a protester should cast VOID and not just stay home. Those who do not vote for two consecutive elections are stricken off the voters’ registry – and going through registration again is one bloody penitencia.

What about OTA (All of the Above)? That scattergun approach can be made when confronted with a situation that my friend Ofie Santamaria described in a text:

“The perfect president must have Villar’s money, Aquino’s heart, Teodoro’s brain, Estrada’s appeal, Gordon’s willpower, Villanueva’s spirituality, and Jamby’s … (never mind).

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SCARY GADGETRY: My greatest fear is that many voters will enter the poll precincts on May 10 with great trepidation – because of the ballyhooed full computerization daw of the process.

Voters in far-flung places who have not seen even a rickety typewriter will come face to face with a mean machine that might just explode when they touch it. Even teachers expecting poll duty said they are a bit anxious about the high-tech gadgetry.

What about the 50 million or so voters, 70 percent of whom are likely to submit to the “automated” system never before tried in this neck of the woods?

Individual coaching of voters as they prepare their ballots will not only violate the secrecy of their choices, but will also slow down the process.

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NO FULL AUTOMATION: People must be told the truth that the elections will not be fully automated, as advertised. Only the vote-counting and the transmission of the scores — after the actual voting — will be done electronically.

Looking for one’s name on the lists on the wall, convincing the poll officials of one’s identity, marking the ballot and inserting it into the computer will still be done the usual manual way of the bad old days.

The massive cheating before the ballots are cast will still be there. The only major trick possibly curtailed is the buying of doctored Certificates of Canvass which are the bases (not the precinct election returns) for the proclamation of winners.

We understand why the Comelec has to justify the P7.2 billion in taxpayers’ money being poured into the deal. But the commissioners should not scare voters by making the computers look awesome and technically revolutionary (they are not).

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PNCC FRAUD: Remember Ma. Luis C. Sison Jr., former president and chairman of the Philippine National Construction Corp., the post-martial law reincarnation of the Construction Development Corporation of the Philippines of the Marcos regime?

He emailed Postscript saying: “The presidential candidates and cause-oriented groups always talk about stopping corruption. And yet, there is a very recent Supreme Court decision where (Associate Justice) Antonio T. Carpio, uncovered the Mother, Father and Grandparent of all corruption scams and fraud.”

He was referring to the foiled attempt of Radstock Securities Ltd., a foreign entity, to collect part of a P17,676,000,000 loan taken between 1978 and 1981 by a PNCC subsidiary from Marubeni Corp. although the loan had prescribed.

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PILLAGE: Sison, who opposed the deal, quoted Carpio as saying in the SC decision that he wrote:

“This case is an anatomy of a P6.185-billion pillage of the public coffers that ranks among one of the most brazen and hideous in the history of this country. (It) answers the questions why our government perennially runs out of funds to provide basic services to our people, why the great masses … wallow in poverty, and why a very select few amass unimaginable wealth at the expense of the people.”

Carpio said further: “The PNCC board favored Radstock over the national government in the order of credits. This would strip PNCC of its assets, leaving virtually nothing for the government. This action of the PNCC board is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government and amounts to fraud.”

Sison said the PNCC board must pass a resolution revoking and withdrawing its approval of the Radstock deal “to show the Filipino people that it will not be a party to the biggest fraud in Philippine history.”

This SC decision can be read in the Court’s website as GR No. 178158, promulgated Dec. 04, 2009. It is titled “Strategic Alliance vs. Radstock & PNCC.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 2, 2010)

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