December 12, 2017, 9:07 am
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Anti-AES campaign to discredit democratic gains

Defeated vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s electoral protest wilfully ignores the many salient gains of switching to automated elections and is thus an attempt to undermine democracy itself, an election advocacy group said.

 “By attempting to discredit the entire automated system, the dictator’s son distinguishes himself from the 20,000 other losing candidates who not only accepted defeat but did so on election night, proof of the historic integrity of the 2016 elections,” said Claudette Guevara, convenor of Democracy Watch.

Conceding defeat had been virtually unheard of in the country’s elections, which had long been seen as slow, inefficient, and routinely beset by widespread fraud. To many the switch to automated elections in 2010 thus marked a turning point in Philippine electoral history, confirmed by opinion polls and foreign observers.

However, in his protest before the Supreme Court, Marcos has questioned the authenticity of the Certificates of Canvass (COC) generated by the Consolidation and Canvass System, a move that Guevara described as “thoughtless.”

 “His mother and sister are beneficiaries of the system that he is attempting to discredit,” she pointed out.

 “It appears that resources are being released to discredit the automated elections and reverse the historic gains in our country’s democracy.”

The 2016 elections, which saw former representative Leni Robredo beat Marcos in the vice-presidential contest by some 200,000 votes, continued a trend of speedy transmission of votes, increased confidence in the process, and even a tremendous decline in election-related violence.

In particular, last year’s polls attracted an astounding 81.95-percent turnout, the largest deployment of Vote Counting Machines in the world and the negligible percentage of recorded glitches, and feats of technical flexibility that included printing some 40 million vote receipts and the training of more than 45,000 field technicians in less than three months.

The Commission on Elections was able to transmit some 86 percent of all votes by election night, leading to the proclamation of a near-perfect 99.9 percent of all 18,000 or so elective positions ten short days after election day. All these strides are attributable to that crucial and historic switch to automation, Guevara said.

 “The now routine peaceful and stable transition process between the old and new administrations only serves to fortify the country’s democracy, which the Marcos protest is bent on attacking,” she added.

Thus, an election that is universally hailed as one of the most successful and credible in history should not be sacrificed in the altar of the former senator’s wounded pride, she said.
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