The Manila Times – The ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ of recounting

By Rolly G. Reyes | The Manila Times

While US President Donald Trump is jittery on pending impeachment, Boris Johnson’s restless on the UK’s Supreme Court unanimous decision with an angry parliament, and the world on the brink of surging oil prices, here in the Philippines, we are still counting the result of the 2016 election of the second highest office of the land.

I rarely follow skirmishes between political protagonists, but the better part of me tells me to tickle my funny bones regarding this matter. After all, humor can be painful as well.

I cannot blame the justices for being ill equipped when it comes to numbers, as they devote their life swimming in tons of law books and, thus, are not very familiar with calculators and abacus. Mathematicians or accountants they are not.

I am not really excited about the outcome of the pending electoral protest but rather on the ignominious process losing candidates have to undergo whenever they feel cheated. Yes, two major agencies top the list of the problem solvers: the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The complete circle also involves the opposing lawyers of both camps.

We always say the much abused phrase, “Para sa Bayan,” reflective of our patriotic way of doing things.

A little bit of flashback may help us digest the seemingly indigestible procedure: The PET is an electoral tribunal that deals or decides protests and final outcome of contested positions. It started during the term of President Carlos P. Garcia as Republic Act 1793 and reconstituted under (the irony of it all) the term of President Ferdinand Marcos.

I regret not being able to join this elite group, as the law prescribed an allowance of P100,000 a month on top of the regular salary. Not bad for a poor guy like me who does not know how to compute. Of course it can be said that this is a tedious process that requires the lengthy services of the country’s top legal luminaries, but I can’t help turning green with envy. Sorry, I can be very vulnerable at times. As millennials oftentimes call it, “My bad.”

I, as a qualified senior voter, usually wake up at the wee hours of the morning to start trooping to my usually hard-to-find precinct designation. Occasionally, I will not find my name on the list, but my departed elders quickly quashed my temper as they taught me to persevere and exercise my constitutional right to vote.

What makes my face red is when I survived the ordeal and will suddenly find my precious vote not counted, spoiled or tampered. And the pain multiplies when I discover the same frustrations encountered by hundreds of thousands of voters in different parts of the country. My prehistoric primal instinct of hitting somebody with my club overtakes my crappy notion of non-violence.

This is not personal but a tirade against a systemic flaw in our system. My overstaying years saw years of manipulation and cheating still unresolved. Votes doused with water and debris maintained as a regular occurrence and not unusual? Bongbong Marcos has every right to question Leni Robredo’s margin of 263,473 votes. The difference is too close to ignore.

The Marcos or Robredo name has nothing to do with it, as the menu on table is about the sanctity of the ballot. It is about a disease more deadly than bird flu, dengue or Ebola. It is about manipulation and trashing the true results. And there’s no vaccine in sight.

Then along comes Mary Poppins with her shading threshold “dumbrella” coming into play and revealing flexibilities of 50 percent and 25 percent lifting her up and down. Some say that 50 percent was introduced since vote counting machines were introduced. A resolution during the time of an angry bird allowed the 25 percent. I ceased being a fan of the blockbuster “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Aha! The rules can be changed depending on the weather forecast.

Then the fake news tsunami suddenly engulfed Disneyland and Universal Studios, boosted by their lawyers and dubious opinion shapers. We were thrown into confusion almost on a daily basis. If my septuagenarian memory serves me right, a TV commercial featuring the Comelec encouraged the electorate to do 100-percent shading to avoid strays. This is equivalent to representing only 0.58 percent of Leni’s.

More than three years of protest is too long. It seems that Marcos is singing “It Won’t be Long,” while Leni is trying to make it “A Long and Winding Road.”

The plight of a losing candidate is Calvary unchained. I am talking of the expenditures involved. No way a poor man can embark or even go near the pearly gates of truth searching. Add to this the deviations and detours.

Abandonment of the protest is usually the inevitable choice.

We all know that scrutiny of anything and everything is crucial in the decision. The Vice Presidency’s issue is very unsettling and waiting to be settled with finality. We trust that The Supreme Court can live up to its integrity and fairness. Otherwise, the word “supreme” can suddenly disappear.

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Good work, good deeds and good faith to all.

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