Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision Made on the Extension of Elections

In response to the decision made by the Student Judicial Court regarding the appeal of Yu et al. to extend the elections, the Commission on Elections would like to appeal for a reconsideration of the decision made on the extension of elections based on the following reasons.

Due Process The Commission would like to argue that due process in the filing of the appeal was not followed. The Commission would like to quota the decision made on Case No. 2013-001. “The issue at hand is an issue of due process. The Court has always upheld that each side in the current suit be given the opportunity to be heard. In Ocampo v. Ombudsman (2000)1, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ratiocinated that: “The essence of due process is an opportunity to be heard. One may be heard, not solely by verbal presentation but also, and perhaps even many times more creditably and practicable than oral argument, through pleadings. In administrative proceedings, moreover, technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied; administrative due process cannot be fully equated to due process in its strict judicial sense.” (emphasis ours) The initial appeal was sent via e-mail by Ryan Yu to the Commission on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:18pm. At 5:36 pm, Chief Commissioner Denise Olondriz received a text message from Magistrate for Audit Danielle Gaite, asking for a copy of the Commission’s decision on the appeal sent by Yu et al. Previously, at 3:53 pm, Chief Commissioner Olondriz sent Mr. Yu a text message saying that the Commission does not see their reasons as sufficient bases for extension. However, during this time, no official statement or document containing the reasons for the decision has been sent to the concerned parties. The official statement was only given to Mr. Yu at 8:00 pm. Before this time, it can be argued that Mr. Yu should not have been able to appeal to the Student Judicial Court about the Commission’s decision as a complete decision was not yet provided. Hence, the Commission was not given an opportunity to be heard before Mr. Yu filed an appeal. The Commission would like to argue that due process was not followed.

Insufficient Time and Disenfranchisement of 1200 Affected Students The argument posed by Yu et. al. about the Commission’s computation is invalid for the following reasons. First, they said that the computation should not have excluded the 1200 students who were affected since they also would have theoretically voted from Wednesday to Monday. However, they also argued that these students, as being directly affected, were disenfranchised to vote. Hence, their

argument that these people should have also lined up, voted without their votes being counted, thus, taking up computer time, should not be accepted. To further discuss this, we pose the following arguments: (1) The extension, in theory, should have only been for the students who have voted but whose votes were not counted. The extension, then, is a time for them to cast their votes for a second time. However, this extension was not only given to them but all the 1200 students who did not vote at all during the regular election dates. Again, the Commission would argue that this gives sufficient time for those from these courses who were disenfranchised from voting in the first place. Also, since this extension is also applicable to them, they would not have taken up the voting time for other unaffected students. (2) If Yu et. al. argues that these students were “disenfranchised” from voting, then, theoretically, they would not have lined up, thus, not taking up the time for other students to vote. Hence, a separate computation should be made for them because it is a special case. (3) Even if it is arguable that they took the time to vote for Wednesday to Friday during the time that they did not yet know about the system failure, by Monday, the effects of such system error would already have applied to them. Thus, making some of them, as Yu argues “disenfranchised.” It would be difficult and cumbersome to try to determine how much of these students voted for the first 2 and a half days. Treating them differently would paint a much more accurate picture than treating all of them the same way.

From the above arguments, the Commission stands by its computations. The Commission would like to reiterate that the computations presented in the appeal by Yu et. al. are inaccurate and oversimplify the said situation. Aside from the first argument, the Commission would also like to argue that the numbers used in the computations are not static. As stated in the computation, the voters can vote for 8 hours per day. However, as the Commission has already previously mentioned and would like to expound on, these 8 hours are not static. The rule that the Commission goes by is that if there are still voters lined up by 5:00 pm, all of these voters would be accommodated. Hence, theoretically, if by 5:00 pm, 20 voters were still in line to vote, (given that each of them would vote for 3 minutes) an additional 60 minutes would be allotted to accommodate these voters. Furthermore, if voters were voting at 5:00 pm and have not yet submitted the votes by 5:00 pm, the poll officers would not tell them to stop voting since time is up. Eight hours of voting per day, then, could extend up to 9, 10, 11, or whatever time it takes to accommodate the people lined up and those already voting. From this, the Commission would like to argue that there is more time given to the voters in the event that they want to vote. Lastly, the Commission would like to argue that the COMELEC Calendar was released during the start of the first semester. Also, given that the petitioners are candidates, these candidates

would have known what the election dates were and how many days the elections had. Was the insufficiency of time not considered before the elections happened? Why is this only currently getting brought up?

Option for Hard Ballots The option for hard ballots given to each and every student should also be considered in deciding whether or not there was enough time and whether or not this affects voters’ “disenfranchisement.” First, with regards to voting time, poll officers were instructed to let people vote using hard ballots in the event that the line is too long. Also, hard ballots were an option to everyone. This being said, only using computer time to determine if there was sufficient time is, again, an oversimplification. Second, Yu et al. argues that the option for hard ballot was not publicized and was not known to all. First of all, the Commission would like to argue that there is insufficient data that proves that most of the student body did not know about the option to use hard ballots. Moreover, the Commission would like to argue that the option to use hard ballots was clearly shown through the General Elections promos as seen below. The promo clearly shows a computer (option for voting using the automated system) plus a hard ballot (option for voting using the manual system) equals the General Elections 2014. Though one may argue that hard ballots are “symbols for elections,” computers are not. Hence, in the promo, we are not merely showing symbols for elections but showing the means in order for people to cast their votes (as also indicated by the plus and the equal signs). Lastly, these voters have gone through at least one election (the Freshmen and Special Elections) whether or not they voted, hence, these people would know more about the elections than some people may assume.

The Commission would also want to ask that decisions not be based on assumptions not backed up by data. Despite the qualitative nature of these assumptions, there are still ways to ensure that these are not merely assumptions (i.e. surveys, etc.)

Grounding the Theories in Reality In every decision, it is important to not just look at theoretical computations but also reality. Here, the Commission would like to discuss how the Commission’s arguments are backed up by reality. (1) Insufficient Time. Was there actual evidence based on observations in the poll stations that there was insufficient time given to the voters? As mentioned earlier, the Commission goes by the rule that all voters currently voting or lined up by 5:00 pm should be accommodated. However, there was never a situation that asked for such extension. Although the Commission is more than willing to give extensions every day in case such things happened, there was not a need for it. (2) Disenfranchisement. Did people not vote because they were disenfranchised or because they did not really want to vote? Did system errors really push people to be disenfranchised or were they already disenfranchised in the first place? In the first place, there was already the perceived apathy of students with regards to campus politics. (3) Pushing for the Quota. As mentioned earlier, the fact that there were only three days allotted for elections was already made public by the start of the semester. Aside from this, based on the Commission’s observations on the voter turnout in the first day of extended elections (Thursday, February 20, 2014), the number of new voters are insignificant as compared to the

remaining number of voters (100 people voted out of the remaining 5000, hence, only 2% of the remaining voting population). If the extension was made based on insufficient time and to make up for the lost votes due to “disenfranchisement,” then it does not seem like a very effective solution. With the rate of the voters, assuming 100 voters also vote tomorrow, the extension only made up for the quota and not really the reasons mentioned by the petitioners.

Based on the arguments posed above, the Commission would like to request for a reconsideration of the decision made on the petition sent by Yu et al.

Signed by,

(Sgd) Denise Olondriz COMELEC Chief Commissioner

(Sgd.) Joyce Donaire COMELEC Human Resources Commissioner

(Sgd.) Mikee Razon COMELEC Finance Commissioner

(Sgd.) Justine Guino COMELEC Secretariat Commissioner

(Sgd.) James Ong COMELEC Logistics Commissioner