Commentary: Poll machine
By Bong Pedalino
Maasin City (11 February) -- Now that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has the needed funds to breathe life to a long-desired computerized elections next year, here comes another challenge that may stifle that dream to become a reality.
Anytime this month, February, 2009, the poll body would have set into motion the bidding procedures and processes for acquiring the ballot counting machines called Optimal Mark Reader (OMR) system.
This system, which was pilot-tested and proven effective during the ARMM elections in August last year, would read ballots marked with ovals besides the candidates' names shaded by voters.
Everything would have been a go -- until recently, when a seldom-heard political party and a group of 38 bishops were reported as opposing the use of OMR, fearing fraud may be embedded in the system, as they claimed.
The oppositors pushed for the open election system (OES) instead of the OMR.
And for starters like me, the OES, we are told, is manual counting and voting at the precinct level all over the country, but canvassing at the designated voting centers up to the national level is automated or computerized.
The OES, it would seem, is a blend of the old and the new school in our electoral life.
I don't know if the Bishops are deeply involved in highly technical matters nowadays; this is the impression I got after reading the report, although to be fair, the same article did not state the Bishops' preference of one system over the other.
But as far as my limited understanding of their unlimited say in worldly affairs is concerned, they are more focused on moral issues than specific systems to be used in elections.
In other words, whatever systems adopted by authorities, the Bishops' call would have been to insure that such a system be strengthened, so the people's will as reflected in the ballot will be upheld. This is morality in voting, or spirituality in political standards.
As to the political party, they should have campaigned hard for the OES to be pilot-tested either in the barangay elections of October, 2007, or the ARMM elections last year, so an immediate evaluation of how effective the OES was can be done.
We are fed-up with manual voting and counting, for this is subject to cheating and terrorism by political warlords especially in remote barangays, and to combine it with automated canvassing does not appear to solve the problem, which starts at precinct levels, in the first place.
The OMR, on the other hand, may not be 100% fool-proof, but there is still a paper trail that can be re-traced, and besides, this was one way of weaning voters from the purely manual listing, having been tested as being do-able.
So, go ahead, make your day with the OMR as the poll machine of choice, Mr. Comelec.
LOCAL FRONT: February may be the lovers' month, but it was also designated as the dental month, among other mandated observances. And to mark this month as the 5th National Dental Month, Cong. Roger Mercado together with Limasawa Development Foundation (LIDEF) sponsored a free dental clinic last week at barangay San Jose, Maasin City. The activity was held in coordination with Philippine Dental Association and Southern Leyte Dental Society. Close to 200 people availed of the free tooth extraction service. Barangay Captain Ismael Sabalo of San Jose was evidently happy his barangay was chosen as the center of the day's activity.
ODDLY YOURS: Uncommitted Romeos dating for committed Juliets this Valentine's Day better be warned: do not get drunk. Scientists have determined that communication between the nerves in the brain's cerebral cortex slows down when a person gets drunk. The result? The opposite sex appears more "attractive." The cortex controls reason and judgment, and this is altered when one has drunk one alcohol glass too many, impairing reasoning process, and making a drunk man less choosy. Drinking in excess of moderate levels also blocks messages from the eyes to the brain, causing a blurred view of one's companion. Thus, just like in driving, do not drink when on a date to avoid regret's later. (PIA-Southern, Leyte) [top]