It is all set for the national and local elections on May 10, 2010. The campaign period is now full blast for all the elective positions. Our country's fate now rests upon the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) steadfast resolve to tide us over -- peacefully, safely and credibly until election day.

COMELEC needs to restore and protect the people's confidence and the voters' trust. This is a very critical period for the country and for the elections in disparate crossroads. One leads to genuine hope and change, the other towards a perpetual penury. While the people are choosing - reluctantly, frustratingly or desperately - the COMELEC must strive very hard to drive and bring the country in the right direction.

The people's cast of vote in the elections is the people's cast for COMELEC. Every cast of vote is a cast of COMELEC!

Nevertheless, it's a very rough road and the drive is difficult! We can never ignore, and we will never forget the 12-0 and the Hello Garci scandals! Even the ZTE-Broadband scandal is an outrageous stain (what the "#@%!!!" is the business of the COMELEC chair in economic affairs!). How can the COMELEC restore the people's trust in these trying times! The memory is all coming back when computer technicians walked out because of tabulation fraud in the 1986 snap elections.

Niccolo Machiavelli was correct. When the system is corrupt, the rich and the powerful stand to win; and the weak - even if virtuous - are too frightened and incapacitated to run. It's a mind-boggling mockery, a flaw of democracy where the country's future relies on a corruptible (if not corrupt) system. The mockery has become so disparagingly mundane, that Imelda Marcos was once quoted: “Win or lose, we'll just go shopping after the election!”

The COMELEC needs to reverse the ridicule, especially that this is the first computerized national and local elections in the country. It is also the first time that the presidential position has 9 contending candidates (we would have 10, if not for the disqualification of the KBL prexy aspirant). The elected president will have to face a potential paralysis as a minority president.

About 85,000 candidates will be competing for only about 16,000-17,000 national and local positions, including about 150 party-list organizations. With a 63 million voting population, over 51 million voters are registered. Past figures show that only about 70% or 35-40 million voters actually vote during the election day. Of this figure, the youth - aged 18 to 40 - consist of holding the swing votes since they comprise 40% of the registered voters.

Why are there so many candidates for the upcoming elections? Some good reasons are identified in another blog (Now What, Cat?). People run for public office for media mileage. Some test the waters in case they run again. Others are waiting to be offered to withdraw for whatever illicit deals they may get from withdrawing (like cabinet or ambassadorial position or positions in the government controlled corporations). Surely, many others run for nuisance reasons. Even party list groups are crowded with many questionable identity. The next president should lead in clarifying what constitutes marginalized sectors, and protect their interest by improving sectoral representation through the party-list system.

Thus far, the election season shows how people behave (or misbehave) in their political conduct (or misconduct). Public cynicism gravely impairs public trust and derails the choice of candidates. The American journalist Franklin Pierce Adams was not sarcastic to say: “Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody!” Even the German socialist, Oscar Ameringer - reputed as the Mark Twain of American Socialism - was never acerbic to state: "Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, [and] by promising to protect each from the other!"

And the poor electors are as lost as deceived by politicians. Most candidates change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party. And by an act of a collective scorn, the people do not necessarily choose the best candidate; they just hope to vote for the one who will do the least harm.

By a preemptive act of caution, I cannot help but believe Josef Stalin in his (in)famous allusion:

Those who cast the votes determine nothing! Those who count the votes determine everything!

So much depends on the COMELEC, 
and thus may God bless this country!