ASKED to comment about the last midterm elections, one archbishop was overheard as saying, “it was very peaceful, the vote buying was so peaceful”. He said it as calmly as one would with a tinge of resignation after a long battle with a system that has never, and probably will never ever, budged. “Our volunteers were very frustrated,” said another bishop. The vote-shaving, the killings and ingenious ways of cheating aside, even just the making of a simple voters list to order the COMELEC could not do.
In a precinct near the central CEMELEC headquarters in Intramuros, it took me an hour and a half (and a couple of arguments) to find my name—in a barangay with just about three hundred or so voters. There are 3 years in between elections, why can’t COMELEC put the voters list to order? Cellphone companies in the country have subscribers twice more than the registered voters. And yet names are listed with admirable precision so that when you pay you phone bills over the counter, it just takes a split-second to get all your billing data to the last detail up to the name of your father who has decided to rest to thy-kingdom-come.
This is neither inefficiency nor indolence. This is an agenda, a political mechanism so that disenfranchisements and technical cheating would be as easy as making perspiring and lining-up voters splendidly stupid. And this is not talking yet about the likes of Maguindanao or Lanao where electoral schemes are hatched years ahead. Or of the clones of “garci” and the jueteng money that operates as smoothly as a double-faced commissioner.
Unless this country’s electoral system is reformed nothing else will ever be reformed. For, why will I have the guts to give credence to a president or her subalterns if she herself had been a fruit of a rotten, hence heavily doubtful, electoral process—even if they promise reforms to the high heavens?