Perlas: Better a delayed election than a failed election
By Michelle Cristobal
MANILA, Philippines – Why hold an automated election for the country’s highest office if there is a large possibility that it will fail?
Independent presidential candidate Nicanor “Nick” Perlas said this is the question that the Commission on Elections should consider when deciding on his petition to postpone the May 10 nationwide polls for 3 months.
“Instead of waiting for failure to happen on election day, we have to preempt it. We have to be active,” Perlas told radio dzMM.
The presidential bet, a known environmentalist, said he filed a petition before Comelec last week asking the poll body to address 20 technical defects in the automated elections. He said failure to address the defects could mean “disenfranchisement of voters, which would lead to violence and chaos.”
“Many IT experts have already pointed out that we are the only country that is attempting to go from manual to automated [elections] at one go. This is usually done gradually because the system has to be tested but that wasn’t done. And then we have problems with transmission and erratic signals…,” he said.
He said he is also backing calls to conduct a parallel manual count in the May 10 poll but only for the results of the presidential and vice-presidential races. He said conducting a manual audit of the two races would allow election officials to iron out possible technical defects in the country’s first ever automated polls.
Perlas said a parallel manual count is the easiest solution for the Comelec to allay fears of a possible failure of elections next month. He added that he is willing to go to the Supreme Court to exhaust all legal remedies for the possible conduct of a manual audit of the May 10 automated poll.
He also denied the statement of Comelec Chairman Jose Melo that postponing the elections is not provided for under the 1987 Constitution. He said Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code states that the Comelec can postpone an election “for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision.”
Perlas, meanwhile, urged voters to disregard results of pre-election surveys as their basis for deciding who they should vote for in the May 10 polls. “All those who are leading in the surveys are traditional politicians, or are surrounded by traditional politicians. So we have to ask ourselves – if they win, will anything in the country change or will corruption and poverty continue?” he asked.
He said that unlike his rivals, he is a not a tried-and-tested politician and has no record of corruption.
Perlas said he does support any of the survey frontrunners– Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar, Joseph Estrada or Gilbert Teodoro — since he does not expect that they could bring any lasting change to the country.
He said he particularly felt bad that Aquino, whom he described as “honest”, has surrounded himself with traditional politicians.
“Nasasayangan ako actually kay Noynoy. I don’t think he has found a way to deal with the traditional politicians that have now joined him,” he said.
He added that one Aquino supporter that he considers a traditional politician is Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, President Arroyo’s former economic adviser. He said Salceda helped Mrs. Arroyo achieve continuous economic growth, which only benefited the rich but did not help the poor.
Perlas also said Aquino’s “honesty” will not be enough to effect real change in government. He cited as an example Aquino’s mother, former president Cory Aquino, whose government was riddled with corruption despite being honest herself.
“Cory was honest but her government was far from perfect. I was a technical adviser to the Cory government and I had to stop corruption at the Department of Agriculture because of corruption inside. So you can be honest pero pag hindi ka marunong magdala ng sistema, ng larger system, hindi mo mahihinto yung corruption,” he said.