I hate to be an alarmist or an agent of gloom, but the fate of the country literally (I detest this word but I'll use it anyway) hangs in the balance with the automated national elections scheduled on May 2010.
A failure of elections, as pointed out by various publications and law experts, would result in the Philippines not having a president because all the supposed Constitutional successors are either running for reelection or retiring.
Here's the unique situation that's staring the country in the face: President Gloria Arroyo's term is ending, along with Vice President Noli de Castro's--who, by the way, is not running for higher office.
The third in line is Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who is seeking reelection. The fourth constitutional successor is House Speaker Prospero Nograles, whose tenure will also end as he has finished his three terms as congressman.
The fifth and last line to the presidency is Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who is retiring this May 17, 2010, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Enrile is supposed to have the most viable chance to succeed as president should automated polls fail--but, as mentioned, he's up also for reelection. This is the reason why there was a suggestion earlier for him to resign and allow a fellow senator, whose term will not end this coming elections, to assume the post as Senate chief. Without a president, the country could plunge into mayhem as various forces may exploit the situation to grab power.
This dreadful scenario, of course, is merely hypothetical and would be entirely dependent on the outcome of the computerized elections.
While I'd like to believe that the e-polls would turn well in the end and produce a duly elected president, I have an uneasy feeling that unscrupulous operators would do everything to mess up the process. For instance, what if some bright minds manage to spoil, let's say, by crumpling the ballots, which the counting machines would then refuse to read. Wouldn't that disenfranchise voters and consequently create some sort of chaos?
The delay of the delivery of the counting machines is also not helping allay the fears of those who say the equipment should be thoroughly tested first before being deployed in precincts all over the country.
I agree entirely with Vicky Agorrilla, president of the IT Association of the Philippines (ITAP), who commented to me that the credibility of the local IT industry is also at stake here, since a failure of the automated system would surely give the sector a huge black eye. TIM, the local partner in the consortium that bagged the automaton deal, is in fact an active member of the ITAP. If the proponents make a mess of the project, expect the people to lose their faith in technology, she said.
This, indeed, is a make-or-break situation for us.
Industry Update Two communications guys are reportedly set to leave their posts in the coming months.
Horace Lavides, the long-time "senior manager for media services" of PLDT, is retiring from the company. Lavides is said to be winding up his stint at the carrier and is just a few weeks or months away from retirement.
Over at Hewlett-Packard Philippines, marketing communications executive Francis Chua is also relinquishing his post in the next couple of months to devote himself to his family's business.