16 May 2007

A modest proposal

NOW, THE ritual gnashing of teeth over the shameful management of the May 14 elections has begun. Inquirer's Amando Doronila said it best: the manually conducted Philippine elections are our crying shame. But I liked how historian Ambeth Ocampo put everything in context:

The counting and collating of election returns continue as I write this column. We are in the 21st century, the age of e-mail, iPods, laptops, wi-fi, electronic banking, and the most sophisticated multi-tasking phones you can imagine. But our ballots are still filled out and counted manually, the same way it was done in the last century. While computerized elections remain a possibility and will make counting faster, our mindset, unfortunately, remains manual. This is a clear case of how people sometimes cannot or will not cope with advances in technology.
In a previous column, Ocampo also provided additional details from the Tejeros Convention, which he argues to be the country's first brush with 'dagdag-bawas.' Everything therefore is nothing but history repeating itself.

Having gone through all the difficulties associated with the May 14 elections, where we woke up at 3:30 am on May 14 and went home at 4 am the following day, I would like to venture a proposal -- I'm not sure if it is possible at all -- so that the people responsible for this mess will really, really understand this unending tragedy they are foisting on the Filipino people.

In all areas where there had been failure of elections, I propose that (1) the Comelec set a special election day; and (2) President Arroyo and her cabinet, the whole Congress (sitting senators and congressmen, who will be in office until June 30), and the six-man Comelec and their Manila-based directors be made to serve as Boards of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in these areas.

This proposal will enable them to experience first-hand what they have continually been imposing on our public school teachers since I can remember. Having gone through the same 24-hour plus ordeal, the humbling experience can also serve as penance for their continuing failure to do the job. And finally, it should give them every reason to finally push through automating our electoral exercises.

The logic is simple and clear: one can only give what he has. It similar to the sad state of our public schools; most politicians only pay lip service to the need to rescue it from the doldrums because their children are enrolled in private schools.


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