CHEATING. Machine failure. Incessant outages. Manipulation of results and failure of elections. These are but some of the apprehensions of voters and the general public and observers who are anxious to see firsthand the ambitions, if not entirely foolproof, automated election machines euphemistically called precinct count optical scan units or PCOS.

These expensive (yes, as in very expensive) initiations into modern technology will undergo their baptism of fire on May 10 and whether or not the efforts and huge budget put therein will be worth it, only Smartmatic and the Comelec may perhaps know.

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Sa isang banda, may pakinabang naman siguro tayo sa automation na ito. At least, it can no longer be said that our election tabulation is still archaic and ends only after several excruciating months.

Would my dire warnings then be justified? Or would Comelec this time, after decades of faulty manual tabulations, redeem itself and pass the test with commendable ratings? Your guess may probably be as good as mine.

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Jumping the gun on other candidates. There is no hard fast rule on when a candidate really has to campaign in earnest. Like, while the official campaign period for local candidates is on March 26 yet, a Friday, showboats, equipped with blaring pirated and perhaps plagiarized sounds on very huge and loud, if not offensive, baffles and speakers, now parade through the streets, proclaiming to all and sundry, the good traits of the candidates. By the way, do the candidates and their retained counsels observe the anti piracy laws on intellectual properties? Caucuses abound and trips to wakes and interments are cognizable.

Election time is fiesta time. The streets are one big fiesta carnival site: buntings, tarpaulins, billboards and streamers of various sizes, logos, slogans and other devices of persuasion.

And, most importantly, money from moneyed candidates flow generously this time and the solicitors are, once again, aplenty. Ah, buhay na buhay na naman ang mga propesyunal na manghihingi. From dawn to dusk, these solicitors (a gentle word to describe beggars) make their way to the headquarters or residences of all candidates regardless of party affiliations. Walang pinipili, walang pinatatawad sa paghingi. Now, who says our country is that poor?

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It will only be eleven days from today before the start of the official campaign period for local candidates. Like soldiers off to battle, the armory is all set for the big fight and everyone is raring to go.

There are several desirable candidates to choose from, for different elective positions. Some of these aspirants are opting for true, genuine and effective change. They will institute reforms in local governance, they pledge and I hope they will not renege on their campaign promises, as is the habit of some who, after being elected into office, make a complete turnaround and forget all their promises.

The choice and the power to choose are ours, ladies and gentlemen. Let us be, once again, wise and judicious in our selection. Certainly, we do not want to regret later on if we made the worst decisions. Three years are short for a good official but are too long for a bad one.