Why the slowdown?

After a blazing start on Monday night, the unofficial count managed by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting has slowed to a crawl. The official tally maintained by the Commission on Elections itself, which began the day after the elections, has been even slower. After the excitement over the speed by which election results were being reported right on Monday night, we are back on much more familiar territory: the slow count, vulnerable to manipulation and fraud.

A comparison with the record set by the 2010 elections, the Philippines’ first-ever nationwide automated vote, is instructive. On the evening of May 15, about two full days since the close of the last voting booth, the PPCRV issued a statement of concern: “By midnight last night, barely 70 percent of the total clustered precincts in the Philippines were able to transmit the results to the central transparency server. It is to be noted that at this time during the 2010 National Elections, around 85 percent of the total clustered precincts were able to transmit their votes to the PPCRV server.”

The campaign manager of the administration coalition’s Senate slate, Sen. Franklin Drilon, noted that delays in transmitting election results were encountered only on Wednesday, “when counting progressed to only 69.2 percent from 69.1 percent Tuesday.”

Problems in transmission have been blamed for the unexpected delay. But aside from weakness of telecommunication signals or the outright lack in some areas, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections said transmission was also hampered by malfunctioning PCOS machines and a lack of modems.

Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes added one more factor: the official nature of the Comelec’s own count. Yesterday (Thursday), he told reporters covering the official canvass at the Philippine International Convention Center: “It’s only natural that [the official canvassing] has to be slower because it goes through stages”—referring to the transmission of the election results from the precincts to the municipal and then the provincial tabulation centers and then finally to the National Board of Canvassers.

Yes, but. It is still slow, in both absolute and relative terms. And the country’s entire history of elections tells us that slow is risky: It is between the casting of the ballot and the canvassing of the votes that much electoral fraud, especially the wholesale kind called  dagdag-bawas, or add-subtract, takes place. And it takes place only if the count is slow enough.

The nominal opposition, the United Nationalist Alliance led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, has complained to the Comelec about “manipulated data” and the unaccountable slowdown in transmission. The administration coalition has also voiced its concern (although it did not, like UNA, ask the Comelec to delay the proclamation of the first winning senators).

“We’re not accusing anyone of anything but at this point questions being raised by UNA are the same questions being raised by Team PNoy. Why is there a delay in the transmission? We also want answers,” Secretary Ricky Carandang said.

Instead of clear-cut, convincing answers, the Comelec responded by raising the anxiety level. It decreed yesterday that the transparency servers being managed by the PPCRV and its partner media organizations be suspended, the very same servers which allow third parties to check or validate the official election results. It has since explained that order, with Brillantes saying it was only a suspension meant to show “some respect” for the NBOC, and that the PPCRV and others could still collect election data from the servers but should not announce them. So why didn’t the Comelec say so in the first place?

Part of the problem lies in the way Brillantes and his commissioners seem to place a heavy burden on the people’s compliant trust.

At one point in a press huddle yesterday, he was asked whether it was possible for election fraud operators to switch the compact flash cards of the PCOS machines. His reply: “That’s true. Those with dirty minds will think that way. But the watchers are all there. What CF-card switching? Here we go again. We go back to the outsiders full of doubts and speculations.”

But aren’t these exactly the kind of questions all of us should be asking? It’s not that we have dirty minds; it’s that our voting experience is full of dirty tricks.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=52745

Tags: editorial , election count , slowdown

  • Chloroform

    they say that 300 PCOS machines failed. the question now is how many precincts failed? It really does not matter whatever the individual reason is, the fact is that the whole automated election system failed to deliver the expected outcome… If there is a problem in transmission, why did they not use a signal amplifier or relay stations/repeaters?

  • Fulpol

    But aren’t these exactly the kind of questions all of us should be asking? It’s not that we have dirty minds; it’s that our voting experience is full of dirty tricks.


    and BS Aquino-Makapili III never care to question Brillantes and COMELEC… why??

  • kayanatwo


    nobody asked me, but…the question of “why the slowdown” entail an answer. could (it) be the cause of “the slowdown” was deliberate or human-machine-interface boo-boos?

    my next question is , did we had any election events sans “monkey-business” (post martial law years) that we can remember or swear to it??????

    we should not be all this surprise to “why the slowdown” occurred…..the events only prove that our ” system” is still have a long way to perfection…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruben.catada Ruben Catada

    It’s obvious, the COMELEC needs not only lawyers but an IT management expert to run it. The present delays show COMELEC’s lack of skills and preparedness to implement the PECOS system efficiently. Yet, it should have learned from its 2010 computerized elections experience and a full three-year idle time to learn, test and maintain the system. Except for SSS, this fact is true in almost all government institutions: they all lack IT management systems experts. Instead, we have dated manual systems which lack skilled manpower. This results not only in inefficient service and slow inaccurate data but eventually corruption and delayed justice.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Former solon, 2 others sanctioned for unfair labor practice
  • Let us pray for the nation, healing priest asks leaders
  • AFTA to kill PH agri industry in 2015, says neophyte senator
  • Blame game on as Edsa repairs miss deadline
  • Baptist church ransacked; even spoons, forks stolen
  • Sports

  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Lifestyle

  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Korean animation comes of age
  • Entertainment

  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Special section in LA fest for Filipino films
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Marketplace