Posts Tagged ‘no-el’

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Overacting

In Automation on 17 May 09 by jimenez Tagged: ,

Can you say “overacting?”

The public response to Chairman Jose Melo’s avowed nightmare scenario seems overboard, doesn’t it?

Of course no one wants the elections to be canceled – least of all the COMELEC. What good would that do us?

Think about it for awhile. These reactions to what Melo said are underpinned by one basic idea: that no one has actually considered the possibility that some disgruntled group might actually file a case with the Supreme Court seeking to enjoin automation, with the Court actually issuing a temporary restraining order, or – worse – not issuing a TRO and then, with the elections coming up, suddenly voiding the automation contract. If that happens close enough to the polls, then how can the COMELEC possibly prepare for an election?

Legarda said in a statement: “Who gets to benefit from a no-election scenario? Isn’t it the administration? Now comes the Comelec doing a mind conditioning of its own, wittingly or unwittingly, by saying that losing bidders may sue to stop not only poll automation but the election itself.”

First of all, losing bidders cannot sue. And mind conditioning? Hardly. Call it prudence instead, that we are telling the people what the possibilities are without sugar-coating the more nasty ones. The truth is, the people must know that if and when a suit is brought before the SC to shoot down automation, they must be doubly vigilant that it is not frivolous or founded on some misplace professional pride or based on a warped idea of patriotism.

More to the point, the public must know that their rests a very significant responsibility on the shoulders of the SC to be very careful about what suits to entertain and – as a learning from the 2004 experience – to be very cautious about scuttling the project so close to election day.

Escudero, chair of the Senate oversight committee on poll automation, said if the bidding process was above board, “he (Melo) should be able to sleep well.”

With all due respect to the Senator, a spotless bidding process does not guarantee that no suits will be filed. It’s not only the bidders that can bring suit, after all. The automation contract is an expenditure of public funds, hence it can be a very tasty target for a taxpayer’s suit. Which means that practically anyone can gun for it. This includes people who are fronting for losing bidders and anyone who thinks that he knows better than a Constitutional body how it’s job should be done. In the latter category, count everyone who thinks that automation should not be nationwide, or should not be for all races. Include also everyone who claims to know information technology and has a thousand and one ideas on how things should be conducted. And of course, it is the blind man who ignores that there is a certain nihilistic thrill to scuttling a government project of this magnitude.

Secretary Gonzalez said talk of a no-election would only “fan the sinister imagination of critics.” He said there would “always” be elections because “we can always revert to the old [manual] system.”

True enough. But then again, what if the SC were to void the contract too close to the elections? Say, three months before? We all would like to think that the SC would not do such a thing, but what if it did? Are we supposed to ignore that possibility and so, not prepare for it?

Because really, that’s all there is to it: acknowledging the possibility of a problem and preparing for it. We know that there is no way we can guarantee that some person or group won’t get it into their heads to second-guess the COMELEC. The least we can do, therefore, is to warn the public – and everyone else who might find it in their power to do the right thing – of the dire consequences of a suit filed late, or an SC decision promulgated even later.