It’s Election Day in the Philippines today. My ears are glued to the wall-to-wall radio coverage of the proceedings, while my Twitter feed is focused on the #vote2013 and #halalan2013 hashtags. Occasionally I check the KontraDaya site for updates.
Reports have started pouring in, and they are mostly worrisome. They are confirming many fears about the Automated Election System (AES) and the PCOS machine’s many hitches and glitches, and the possibility of poll failures at the local level.
Voters and BEIs are getting frustrated about PCOS machines that don’t work, CF cards that can’t be read, ballots rejected because they are too wide or smeared easily by ink, paraphernalia sent to the wrong precincts, and so on and so forth. This is not to mention the older methods of electoral cheating—some subtler, some more brazen, which have long existed and have merely adjusted to the new AES environment.
At this point, I’m sorely tempted to shout, “Eto posporo, Sixto, sindihan mo na yan!”
Eto posporo, sindihan mo na yan (“Here’s a match, torch that thing”) is a friendly taunt commonly traded among Metro Manila jeepney drivers when they pass by a stalled vehicle, most often (but not always) another dilapidated jeepney. The English translation is literal, but cannot capture the accompanying smirk and mocking tone that’s typical of the jeepney driver, who has long adopted a perverse sense of humor to survive the metropolitan jungle.
Come to think of it: A jeepney driver who mocks his fellow driver—who is already beset by a stalled engine, irate passengers, and the curses of other motorists—doesn’t really expect the poor guy to just throw down his toolbox and turn his jeepney into a fireball. After all, we all want to straighten all traffic kinks so we can all go home in time for dinner, don’t we?
So what do jeepney drivers actually do when their dilapidated road contraptions balk on the road? They use anything within reach—including chewing gum for putty, baling wire for hose clamp, women’s stockings for fan belt—just enough to coax the engine back to life and bring it to the mechanic’s garage. (Believe me, I know and I’ve seen these MacGyver remedies at work.)
So now we’re witness to a supposedly sophisticated AES having to resort to hand blowers (to ensure that the ink on the ballot is dry enough) and to scissors (to cut oversized ballots to the proper width) before feeding the ballots into the PCOS machine, and to use brooms and umbrellas to unclog the PCOS of jammed ballots. At the precinct level, BEIs and PCOS technicians are resorting to these “chewing-gum-and-baling-wire” tactics to keep the AES breathing until day’s end.
Hence, at this point, my sentiments about the AES is just about the same as that of a jeepney driver finding out that the cause of the monstrous traffic jam he finds himself in is a dilapidated vehicle that should have been kept off the road in the first place, but has been allowed because of the desperate situation.
So now, allow me to just scream in utter frustration: Eto posporo, Sixto et al. Sindihan niyo na yan!
Let me exercise my right to throw that taunt at the Comelec, even if deep inside I’m still hoping against hope that Sixto the befuddled jeepney driver can at least bring his derelict vehicle back to life and deliver even half of his passengers to their destinations, before he surrenders his confounded contraption to the mechanic’s shop (if not the junk shop).#Follow @junverzola