Commentary: Final countdown to automation
By Bong Pedalino
Maasin City (4 May) -- Ten days to go, April 30. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) shut down for good a proposed parallel manual count, saying that the purported benefits of such a move could be overshadowed by the clear and present dangers of tradition-based manual tallying, a scenario the proponents themselves do not want to happen.
Nine days to go, May 1. Comelec chair Jose Melo wondered what Secretary of Defense Norberto Gonzalez was up to when the latter divulged a plan to put the historic automated vote to a limbo; Melo was joined later by top bosses of the AFP and the PNP, who prodded Gonzalez for details of the supposed plot ? a dare not responded by the Defense chief as of this writing (May 4).
Eight days to go, May 2. The Mayweather-Mosley bout provided a much-needed break to the worries of automation, worries that continue to hound the rattled and the over-confident, it would seem; but the break was broken too soon, with calls for "people power" dominating the news if one candidate losses (what??? say that again, please...), and a top Catholic Church leader calling such call "crazy and irresponsible."
Seven days to go, May 3. The PCOS again takes center stage, with reports that in some places it did not register the votes for whom those votes should be registered. Calling Smartmatic-TIM to fix those units as fast as the fixing can be done.
Six days to go, May 4. Modems, servers, and-technical-what-have-you in connection with the historic May 10 automated vote were measured and found wanting, and technology glitches were reported here and there, and everywhere. Quick response, again, is needed, Sirs Smartmatic-TIM.
Five days to go, May 5. By this day, all election paraphernalia -- official ballots, ballot boxes, machines, laptop computers, etc. -- are expected to be already there where the action will be, at the right places at the right time, and functioning quite well, if not replacements should be on their way, as in "help is on the way... "
Four days to go, May 6. PCOS machines, expected to be delivered at the precinct levels, will be tested and sealed, in full view of the stakeholders: watchers of political parties, media, PPCRV personnel, the testing and sealing done by competent members of the Board of Elections Inspectors (BEIs).
Three days to go, May 7. Testing and sealing continues, as this day will be the deadline to make sure that functioning PCOS should be on stand-by already, and ready, at the precinct where it will be used. Here, 24/7 vigilance is not only necessary -- it is imperative.
Two days to go, May 8. This is the last day of the campaign period, both local and national. Expect meeting de avancies to happen across the Philippines, in plazas big and small. In the meantime, the technical systems for transmitting results with speed and accuracy must have been installed, made operational, and subjected to rigid tests by this day -- and the whole previous week, if necessary, so as to act on concerns with dispatch also.
One day to go, May 9. The classical "isang tulog na lang" is upon us. And voters, instead of massing in streets until midnight waiting for "gapang", "kamang" operators, should have better use of their time praying that all will be well the day after. If praying is not your cup of tea, then sleeping early is the next best alternative.
Zero, May 10. As the sun rises, the people in-charge of challenging work at the precincts rose way much earlier, in fact before the crack of dawn, to be a step ahead, and ensure everything in proper places for the integrity of the vote. Before the declaration of the opening of votes by 7:00 in the morning, everything -- and we mean everything -- has been set-up.
This is the day we all look forward to. This is the moment we anticipated with excitement. All sectors of society had for the past few months quarreled, debated, discussed ideas on how best to approach this day, to keep watch literally and figuratively so the sanctity of the votes will not be smeared in any way.
Now is the moment of truth. Will the automated elections be successful and thus live up to its billing of fast and credible results? Will the elections as a whole be honest, orderly, and peaceful?
The answer lies in the hands of all of us, the stakeholders, the supporters and critics alike of Comelec.
This is our rare chance and opportunity. Let us make this happen.
LOCAL FRONT: The local media has been urged to support a clean, honest polls in its conduct as the May 10 vote unfolds. The call was made last week by the PNP Provincial Director, Supt. Pepito Pacada. Yes, Sir! Also last week, official ballots had arrived, and they are now in the hands of the treasurers for safekeeping and actual distribution on election day.
ODDLY YOURS: Internet, computer users always encounter "captchas" code to encode before submitting anything online. Ever wonder what is captchas? It is a loose acronym for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart." Web users then would type a string of semi-obscured characters -- the captchas -- and this test is primarily designed so that computers can prove and tell that those who are typing are human beings, not spam-generating robots. Here, we have a case of computers testing humans, not humans testing computers. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]