Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 7 2010 is Black Friday in Philippine Democracy

May 7 or this coming Friday will be a very critical period in Philippine history. Our entire future for the next six years will entirely depend on the actions of political personalities and forces on this date. The Filipino People will be at the mercy of these powerful forces. This day, May 7, will be our Black Friday. By this date, we will entirely mourn the death of democracy or will see ourselves entering another dark period of our History. This is not a joke my friends. Our democracy is now under extreme threat.

First, on Friday, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to appoint the successor to Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Puno is set to retire by May 17. Despite protestations against it, the Supreme Court recently decided to grant Mrs. Arroyo the prerogative to appoint the next CJ inspite of the fact that it falls within the prohibitive period for appointments as traditionally exercised and also as stated in the 1987 Constitution.

Why are sectors opposing this? One, mistrust. Sectors are suspicious and distrustful of Mrs. Arroyo. They think that Mrs. Arroyo would gain an upper hand if she personally appoints Puno's successor. These sectors believe that with this appointment, it will make the SC as Arroyo's official rubber stamp, a rump court, as some say.

With a Supreme Court for a rubber stamp, anything is possible. Mrs. Arroyo's henchmen still occupying sensitive posts in the government can very well use the SC to legitimize any illicit action. One illicit action will actually be the institution of a transitory government.

May 7 will also be a very crucial one for the Commission on Elections. Depending on certain actions by SMARTMATIC-TIM, the poll body will face two options: push thru with the elections and implement manual counting as a contingency plan or heed calls for the suspension of the elections, as proposed by Arroyo's election lawyer Atty. Romeo Macalintal. Macalintal proposes that the poll body suspends the elections for 15 days.

On Friday, the COMELEC, ICTC and SMARTMATIC-TIM would have finished replacing 76,000 compact flash cards of 76,000 PCOS machines which were already deployed in various parts of the country. Compact flash cards hold the instructions or "program" which the PCOS machines "obey". If these flash cards contain wrongful instructions, then, that would affect the results of the elections.

A defective flash card would lead to the erroneous reading of official ballots which are fed into the machines. IT experts have not noticed this before, simply because flash cards are considered not as substantial as the source codes which, until now, the COMELEC refuses to reveal to various political sectors.

Ray Roxas Chua, chairman of the ICTC, says that the "malfunction" of the PCOS machines arose when the National Printing Office (NPO) and the Comelec made certain changes in the configuration of the official ballot. Chua was not able to explain why SMARTMATIC-TIM and the Comelec failed to do an integrity check (quality assessment) prior to the deployment of the machines. Ces Orena-Drilon, host of The Rundown news program over at ANC asked him why the poll body and SMARTMATIC-TIM failed to do a quality assurance check, an SOP. Chua was speechless.

Atty. Calleja, counsel for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting or PPCRV, says that they already talked with SMARTMATIC-TIM and that the company assured them that by May 7, they would have replaced all defective flash cards. Calleja promises to go after those personally involved in this debacle.

Now, Calleja assured the people that they are ready should Comelec decides to do a manual count but is the poll body ready for manual counting? The Comelec fails to assure us.

If the Comelec proceeds with manual count and this results again to massive cheating, then, the end result will still be a catastrophe. With a very intense elections such as this one, no political group will give even an inch of advantage to its political rivals. Groups are ready to slug it out so to speak for power. The elites are really ready to fight it out, come what may. And this is very, very serious, indeed.

In this scenario, something has got to give way. Someone has to stand down. If all these political groups clash, this will be a very serious and a very long drawn out struggle that will eventually result to something which I think every single Filipino will definitely regret later on.

By the way, a source confirmed earlier suspicions that the "alleged discovery" of defective flash cards was timed. It was reportedly part of a bigger scenario, a bigger action, that will justify an extraconstitutional move. The appearance of former General Reyes and a known close chuwawah of Mrs. Arroyo in the Comelec affirms this.

Why was Reyes acting like a rabble rouser in the Comelec today, as if he wants to instigate chaos and confusion there? After Reyes' appearance, out came the President's election lawyer calling for a postponement of the elections. Were these actions part of a bigger scenario? Most likely.

After Macalintal, out came the news of AFP Chief of Staff General Delfin Bangit's meeting with the Catholic bishops. Coincidence?

This discovery is a subterfuge meant to divert the attention of the public on the possible appointment of the next Chief Justice. It is also an occasion for unscrupulous individuals to change the flash cards. How certain are we that those flash cards which the Comelec and Smartmatic-Tim will re-install and seal are not tampered with? How sure are we that these new flash cards are not programmed to rig the results?

The very slim chance of us relying on democratic means to effect change is getting dimmer and slimmer by the day.