Comelec chief smells watchdog conspiracy
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said he suspected a “conspiracy” orchestrated by an election watchdog aimed at discrediting the country’s election system.
Brillantes vowed to unmask the people behind the conspiracy as soon as the canvassing of the party-list groups’ votes is completed.
There is more to the Automated Election System (AES) Watch group than meets the eye, according to the Comelec chief.
“I’ll just take a little rest, but I will make some punches on the side. I believe there is a conspiracy here. I am also trying to find out who is funding them,” Brillantes told the Inquirer by phone.
He said he would name the people behind AES Watch. “Those who are talking against the Comelec now are not even the people whose names are listed on the group’s letterhead.”
Brillantes was particularly irritated by the claim made by the AES Watch that the 2013 midterm elections were “worse” than the 2010 polls.
“They have not even gone to the Comelec to talk to us and raise their concerns so that we can address them,” he said.
AES Watch is a network of 40 organizations, institutions, nongovernment organizations, information technology professionals, researchers and academics.
“This is not a perfect election. There were mistakes, several of them, but these were not major mistakes. Most of them involved human error,” Brillantes said.
He said AES Watch’s criticisms appeared well-orchestrated. “They’ve been hitting the Comelec for the past three years…. Initially, I thought they wanted only the attention because they are not saying anything new.”
He noted that a week or two before the elections, AES Watch “was suddenly all around.” He also said he believed that the alleged “conspiracy” included some media people who had been giving the group a lot of airtime.
After the group claimed that the 2013 elections were worse than the 2010 exercise, Brillantes apparently has had enough. He called AES Watch “outsiders” who did not bother to find out how the Comelec works.
One “outsider” Brillantes wants to talk to is AES Watch’s Nelson Celis of the Philippine Computer Society. “I want to meet and ask him who he really is and who he represents,” Brillantes said.
He also mentioned Gus Lagman, a former Comelec commissioner-turned-staunch critic and member of the watchdog Kontra Daya, whom he described as someone who is “kontra mundo” because the latter did not seem to agree with anything else about the entire world.
Brillantes, however, took with a grain of salt the criticisms hurled by fellow election lawyer Romulo Macalintal. The Comelec chairman said he never doubted that the poll body did the right thing when it made partial proclamations of the senators-elect on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Macalintal on Sunday rested his case after questioning the propriety of the proclamation by the national board of canvassers (NBOC) of the senators-elect without announcing the number of canvassed votes each one of them received.
“I respect the Comelec’s proclamation of the senators-elect. The canvassing is almost complete and the figures are clear. They (the proclaimed senators) won,” he told the Inquirer by phone.
But Macalintal still reminded the Comelec that it should avoid committing the same “procedural lapse” in future elections so as not to set a “bad precedent,” especially for the local board of canvassers.
He said the Comelec en banc, acting as the NBOC, should stick to the rules and procedures that the commission itself had formulated.
Macalintal had called the early proclamations “defective,” saying the NBOC violated its own rule in Resolution No. 9686 that it would conduct a proclamation upon the completion of the final canvassed result.
He had said that the 2013 midterm election was the first time that winning senatorial candidates had no number of votes indicated in their certificates of proclamation, and that they were proclaimed in alphabetical order and not based on the number of votes they received.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple agreed with the Inquirer when asked if President Aquino’s popularity among the people saved the Comelec from a public uproar over the early proclamation.
Another factor, he said, was that the recent elections were not a presidential election. “It brought stability to the entire exercise that there is somebody that people know does not cheat. It’s a plus,” Casiple said.
While there were issues in the midterm elections that cast doubts on the entire process, the critics “still have to prove their case,” he added.
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