Thursday, May 13, 2010

NICANOR PERLAS- I am NOT conceding.

Nicanor Perlas
12 May 2010

Election Results Remain Indeterminate and Unfair due to the Partial Failure of the Automated Election System

Contrary to rumors in media, I am NOT conceding the elections to presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III. I will wait for Comelec to officially give its final tally and its explanation as to how it will address the reality that millions of Filipinos were not able to vote due to long lines, PCOS machine failures, and/or mismanagement in a significant number of polling places. Then I will make my final decision.

I am NOT conceding because, at this point, Aquino does not have a clear mandate. He is not yet the undisputed winner of the elections. Joseph Ejercito Estrada may eventually surpass Aquino. Even if this does not happen, Aquino’s potential mandate remains indeterminate due to the partial failure of the automated election system (AES). The AES may have prevented as many as 5-8 million Filipinos from voting. It is premature to say that the elections were fair and honest. Fast returns? Yes. Relatively peaceful? Yes. But accurate, clean and honest? Doubtful.

I am endorsing neither Aquino nor Estrada. I am making a point beyond the presidency of an Estrada or an Aquino. Neither is this is a statement about me or my candidacy.I am concerned about the accuracy and honesty of the country’s electoral process, the heart of the democratic exercise. If there is to be a President in this country, he or she has to have the true mandate of the Filipino people. I do not mind if Filipinos want to put a traditional politician in office as long as this reflects the true will of the majority of Filipinos.

Yes, I ran as presidential candidate. But even more important, I also ran to ensure that this country would have a credible national election so that we can all graduate from the curse of tainted elections and the specter of an illegitimate government. As long as the will of the people is not truly expressed, I cannot concede to whatever government will arise out of the recent national elections.

More importantly, I am not conceding because to do so would prevent me from asking questions on whether our electoral process accorded sanctity to each and every ballot. There are questions that remain unanswered. Yes, we are getting the results fast. But fast does not mean accurate. A number of crucial questions remain unanswered. I am making this statement to appeal to Filipinos that we need to look beyond superficial or quick-fix solutions. We should not be easily swayed by a quick broadcast of results. This masks deeper issues that are yet to be resolved. Let us move beyond band-aid solutions and look deeper, determine whether the electoral process was fair, clean, and accurate. Before we claim victory and celebrate based on quick results, let us ensure that the results reflect the true sovereign will, that voters were not disenfranchised, that the machines were not compromised, and that votes were not bought.

We should rebuild this country on the basis of a strong foundation. This entails that our citizens were able to exercise their right to vote, that their votes were counted, and that these votes were accorded sanctity. This is the very core of our democracy. This makes inviolable the sovereignty that guarantees that all government power emanates from the people. And this can only be done if we are able to truly prove that our elections were clean, honest and credible. Without this solid basis, we cannot rebuild the nation.

Here are my reasons for the above statements.

Comelec has reported that 50.7 million voters registered for the May 10, 2010 elections. Of this amount, Comelec declared that seventy five percent (75%), or approximately 38.03 million, cast their ballots. As of 6:00pm yesterday, Comelec counted 30.4 million votes, leaving 7.63 million votes still to be considered. Of the 30.4 million votes counted, Aquino has 40% or 12.16 million of the votes and Estrada has 25.4% or 7.72 million of the votes. Estrada is lagging behind Aquino by 4.48 million votes.

On the day of the election, Comelec expected 85% or 43.09 million voters to cast their votes. If this had been the case, then, 12.69 million votes would remain to be counted after yesterday’s count of 30.4 million votes.

However, it is entirely possible that the actual turnout in the May 10, 2010 elections reached 90% of all registered voters, or 45.63 million voters. During election day, Comelec stated that the voter turnout was higher than expected. Television footages and the direct experience of voters seemed to confirm that this was the case. If this were true, then, after subtracting the 30.4 million votes already counted, Comelec would still have account for 15.23 million remaining votes, assuming 90% turnout.

We thus have the following summary:

At 75% voting turnout, 7.63 million votes remain to be counted.
At 85% voting turnout, 12.69 million votes remain to be counted.
At 90% voting turnout, 15.23 million votes remain to be counted.

From the above summary, it is clear that Aquino’s lead of 4.48 million votes over Estrada can be undermined by the remaining votes to be counted. Furthermore, the election returns (ER) are not statistically representative of the entire population of voters. It is thus entirely possible that the next wave of votes to be counted will show a shift in favor of Estrada and other presidential candidates.

Equally as important, as many as 5-8 million people may not have been allowed to vote due to the long lines and substandard time and motion study of Comelec. We arrive at this figure by taking the difference between the 85-90% voting turnout and 75% voting turnout preferred by Comelec.

Clearly, the outcome of the election is not yet clear at this point and may not be cleared up in the future because of some failures in the automated system. And this does not yet take into account the lack of transparency in the automatic counting of votes and the inner workings of the PCOS machine system, especially its source code and flash card programming.

In addition, the random manual audit, that still has to be completed, may show further glitches in the process. And, even this part of the AES may not resolve the potential problems presented above, because the sample size is too small to be representative of the reality it is trying to measure.

All these do not yet include the problems of large scale vote buying, not to mention the blatant violation of election rules, the documented campaign inside precincts, and other illegal practices.

While we can express appreciation for the comparatively peaceful elections, the race is not over. And Comelec has a lot of explaining to do regarding the large amounts of disenfranchised voters. Only then can we move on to the urgent task of rebuilding the country.#

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