Commentary: High-tech vigilance
by Bong Pedalino
Maasin City (9 February) -- This week, starting on February 9 to be precise, the circus that is called the election campaign for the national elective posts will be officially on.
These campaigns had been on, actually, ever since September last year, thanks or no thanks to the no-more-premature-campaigning name of the game.
The only difference is that before February 9 you cannot hear or read the "vote for so-and-so" phrase; from February 9 until May 8, the phrase will be standard fare in any promotional (read: propaganda) material.
And so, may the best man win -- and the losers concede even without being asked within 24 hours after the victorious ones are proclaimed.
This "I concede that I lose" statement is something alien in Philippine electoral landscape, for as it has been said over and over again with ridiculous undertones that after the elections, Philippine-style, there are only two kinds of results: there are the winners and those who are cheated.
Being cheated, or to prove that a candidate has been a victim of it, is a long way to go; it is but another way of saying in our political psyche, "I lost but I cannot accept it, so I would cry foul and insist I am cheated."
But what if one really has enough basis to claim being cheated? Of course, this has to be backed up with hard evidence, not just plain lip-service, or simply an alibi for a dismal election showing.
Hopefully, those should be things of the past as the nation embarks on the historic full computerization of the May 10, 2010 elections.
With automated balloting, genuine, accurate, official results are out in 36 hours, meaning the winners for President down to the Sangguniang Bayan member will be known in such a short time-span, unlike before when national positions took more than a month to canvass.
Thus, as we mark the beginning of the 90-day campaign period for national posts, it is also meaningful to benchmark this moment as the start of the homestretch, the ultimate lap, for the automated polls to be given life, a long-cherished reality.
Despite all the hassles, the technical glitches, and the reservations aired on going full automation, the mock polls so far showed a promising potential that this is it, this is a go.
Last week there was a major damper, the report on the influx of jammers that was feared to create trouble in the transmission stage -- the critical stage in the automation process.
The report was not immediately confirmed, and Comelec chair Jose Melo declared it was no cause for alarm.
t authorities must not stop, and the intelligence community must be on the double, to nip in the bud any deliberate threats and attempts of sabotage.
If anything, the upcoming electronically-driven suffrage exercise calls on all sectors to observe a high-tech kind of vigilance.
Where before during the manual polls, only the representatives of political parties, the election watchdogs, the media, the foreign observers are involved in a keen 24/7 vigil, now other sectors play an equally crucial role: the private telecommunications companies, the Customs Bureau, the regulatory government agency on telecommunications, and the general public.
Let us keep our fingers crossed that as we join forces in whatever capacity in this high-tech vigilance, our efforts will result in honest, orderly, peaceful, credible -- and fast, correct -- automated elections results.
So that we can hear and read, finally, the losing candidates declaring with pride and dignity intact: I concede defeat.
LOCAL FRONT: Southern Leyte province has "dead" radio or "walkie-talkie/over-over" spots. There are still areas without cellular signals. But this can be solved with satellite transmission, or the internet, with many variations to be used now to get internet access in far-flung barangays. More than a couple of months ago Smartmatic personnel were reported as having surveyed the province, and so we can be assured that they are already mapping plan B or plan C in any event. Is any Smartmatic representative reading this so Southern Leytenos can be appraised and updated?
ODDLY YOURS: In 1995, readers of the prestigious National Geographic Magazine could not believe a fictional character somehow took nonfictional characteristics with the publication of the bestseller, "The Bridges of Madison County." One personality in the novel by the name of Robert Kincaid introduced himself as a photographer of National Geographic. When the novel was made into a movie, actor Klint Eastwood played the role as Robert Kincaid, while actress Meryl Streep played the part as Francesca, the Iowa county woman whom Kincaid approached for directions to his "assignment." In four days, love blossomed between the two -- illicit love since Francesca has a husband and children. National Geographic obliged to give life to the novel and the movie by printing a 1966 cover supposedly containing the work of Robert Kincaid. There was never a staff member by the name of Robert Kincaid. And the realistic cover was a special production solely intended for the movie -- it was really a cover that never was. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]