So, as it has been posted all over the media, Comelec is proceeding with Lilia Pineda’s request for a recount:
From my point of view, there are suspicious and dangerous factors surrounding this recount.
First, between the elections and the present day, the ballot boxes are housed in the municipalities. It is no secret that mayors in several key municipalities are members of the Pineda camp and Lilia Pineda’s son, Dennis, is president of the Pampanga Mayor’s League. While the affiliation of the majority of Pampanga mayors is certainly not satisfactory reason to question Board Member Pineda’s filing for a recount the fact that less than one month ago 15 of 21 Pampanga mayors spent four days abroad “bonding” certainly should suffice to raise some eyebrows. That one of the mayors felt it necesasry to tell the media via text-message that the trip was “at their own expense” recognizes popular conceptions (and in the underworld nature of Philippine politics, what people on the ground know is usually more true than what politicans claim) and belies a guilty conscience. Finally, that mayors such as Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga and Eduardo Guerrero of Floridablanca, who are vocal non-supporters of Pineda, were excluded from the trip only acts to confirm suspicions that the trip was the first step in a master plan that we are witnessing unravelling.
Second, much has been made of the suspicious nature of Comelec’s speedy granting of Board Member Pineda’s request. The Comelec is notorious for its sluggish actions. It is a commission that is understaffed and overworked – just over 5,000 employees are expected to administer elections, enforce all election laws, investigate all complaints of violations of election laws and hold hearings for all formal complaints of election law violations. Let us remember that this is the same body that took over 1 month to declare 12 winning Senators in the 2007 elections, that filing for the disqualification of a candidate during campaign season has become no more than a propaganda tool because it typically takes Comelec over 3 years (past the next election) to decide on such cases, and that this body is supposed to be preparing for the upcoming barangay elections (which they have considered pushing back yet again due to underpreparation). This same body was able to read Panlilio’s request for recount, consider the request, reject it, and issue an order for recount within less than 24 hours. It seems that Comelec is even more efficient when it comes to acquiring money as the order for recount was issued on August 1st and on August 2nd a P4.8 million cash deposit from Ms. Pineda appeared in the Comelec’s financial records.
Although vote-buying and electoral violence make headlines leading up to election day, those who study Philippine elections know that the real danger surfaces after the ballots have been casted. The same dynamic mobilization of civil-society that occured during elections to protect votes and that brought candidates such as Gov. Panlilio to power must not wane, as the danger to those votes is still clear and present. The shame that coerced people not to vote according to who they received money from but who they felt was the better candidate must be extended to Comelec officials such as Commissioner Tuason. The Philippine people have proved, especially in these recent elections, that the sanctity of the vote is a value we hold dear. Let us not lay dormant as this value is challenged.