'Partial failure of elections can make Speaker Arroyo acting president'

‘Partial failure of elections can make Speaker Arroyo acting president’
By MARIA ALTHEA TEVES
Newsbreak

Whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada on Tuesday reiterated warnings of a partial failure of elections that could allow President Arroyo to extend her term in Malacañang.

This can happen in a scenario where the local elections are successful, but the poll machines fail to transmit the results for the national seats (See how transmission works), Lozada told Newsbreak on the sidelines of the La Liga Policy institute forum on the credibility of the automated elections.

In the said scenario, only the district congressmen and officials of the provincial, city, and municipal governments will be sworn in. There will be no president, vice-president, 12 new senators, and party-list representatives.

The country’s succession law provides that when there is no sitting president, the Vice-President, Senate President, and the House Speaker will become Acting President, respectively.

On June 30, there will only be 12 senators left. The number includes senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes, who may not be able to attend session immediately. The term of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile would have expired. It means the Senate won’t have the quorum to elect a replacement.

Meanwhile, if all the district congressmen were sworn, they will have the quorum to elect the House Speaker who can become the Acting President.

President Arroyo is running for the 2nd district of Pampanga. Lakas-Kampi officials have been quoted saying they want her to become Speaker in the next Congress.

Lozada has been speaking in forums to push for the Open Election System. He wants to keep the voting and local canvassing manual. Only the transmission of results in the national posts will be automated.

‘Improbable’
Libertas executive director Roberto Cadiz told Newsbreak that Lozada’s hypothesis could happen “in theory” although it is improbable.

“A lot of things have to simultaneously transpire before that can happen, which is very improbable,” Cadiz told Newsbreak in a text message.

“In short, that can only happen if the Comelec (Commission on Elections) conspires with Malacañang to make it happen,” he added.

Libertas is a legal group focusing on civil rights and election-related laws.

Installing polling stations
Lozada also warned against logistical problems in the automated polls. Lozada said that installing 48,000 polling stations with adequate signal to transmit results is questionable.

He compared the amount of time it needed for other government and private companies to install different automated teller machines and base satellites.

ORGANIZATION NUMBER OF STATIONS TIME TO INSTALL
Comelec 48,000 polling stations (target) 2 months
Smart telecommunications 6,000 base stations 13 years
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) 4,343 lotto outlets 15 years
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) 2,400 ATMs 30 years

He noted that Smart telecommunications is the largest telecommunications provider in the country and yet they needed 13 years to install the number of base stations they have today. PCSO’s lotto outlets is an impressive number, he said, but it took the government agency 15 years to have that many. BPI has the most number of ATMs in the country and they were able to establish their stations after 30 years.

Lozada questioned how Comelec could establish 48,000 polling stations in just 2 months.

Smartmatic not entitled to give satellites
Lozada said providing satellites is not included in the Smartmatic contract with Comelec to provide them with satellite antennas in the upcoming elections. (See the contract here)

The Comelec previously said that they are ready to go manual in 30% of the polling stations wherein there is no strong signal from the 3 telecommunication companies in the country. (Read: Comelec ready for 30% manual polls, says official)

Thirty percent of the 48,000 polling stations is 14,400—but, Smartmatic said that they would supply only 5,000 satellite antennas.

He said that Comelec would need an extra P3 billion to accommodate the number of precincts without sufficient signal.

He also questioned whether Smartmatic could give it for free: “Ang bait naman ng Smartmatic kung ganon (Smartmatic would be very nice to give the satellites for free).”

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento was asked to comment on how to resolve the issue but has not responded as of press time.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.