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Three days after the elections

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the results of the national election would be known in two to three days. It certainly delivered on that promise. More important, there is an air of confidence among the people that these have been clean and honest elections.

Hours after the close of the voting at 5 pm last Monday, there already appeared to be a trending for Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City, as the opinion surveys in the last few days of the campaign had predicted. For vice president, two names were leading – Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Rep. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur – also as indicated by the surveys. It should all be decided by today, three days after the Monday voting.

As for the local elections, many towns and cities were able to proclaim the winning mayors the day after the election. Twelve leading senators appeared to be well in place, with the next three in the list still with a chance to surge forward. There were also no surprises in the ranking of the senatorial contenders.

Voters who are old enough to remember the elections in the fifties, through the succeeding decades until the martial law period when there were no elections, then in the restored democracy after 1986, are all so familiar with terms like “dagdag-bawas” and “guns, goons, and gold.” It took weeks, even months before some winners could be proclaimed. The start of automated elections in 2010 brought new suspicions and charges of more sophisticated cheating through the voting machines, producing new terms like “hocus-PCOS.”

Part of the reason was the unfamiliarity with the new system where poll results were simply spewed out by the machines, instead of canvassed manually up to late at night while local residents watched and waited. The poll commissions who presided over the automated elections in 2010 and 2013 proved unequal to the task of allaying the fears and suspicions.

This is where the new Commission on Elections led by Chairman Andres Bautista appears to have succeeded. It restored security features that were absent in the previous elections. When the Supreme Court ordered one feature – the printing of one’s choices on a slip of paper – carried out, the Comelec found a way to comply. Voting hours were extended, but the end result is a general air of confidence that the voting machines are operating properly and that they will faithfully record, canvass, and report the voter’ choices.

And so today three days after last Monday’s election, the nation is assured that it has successfully held elections in all parts of this archipelago of over 7,000 scattered islands. There have been some incidents of violence. There were glitches in some voting precincts brought about by some malfunctioning machines, which were replaced after some delays. But we appear to have succeeded in holding clean and honest elections.

This has been result of the separate but coordinated efforts of so many officials and offices, not the least of which have been Malacañang and all the offices of the government, along with all the contending parties, organizations, and candidates. The losing national candidates have been quick to concede to the winners. It should now be an easy task for us to unite behind our new officials led by our next President Rodrigo Duterte.

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