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The right way to count votes

Angel Thoughts


By Deedee Siytangco

Be cheerful! God will take care of everything!
Beneath the Cross, we start to love! —St. Padre Pio

Devotees of St. Padre Pio went all out to welcome his relic—his intact, incorruptible heart—to selected churches in the country. The first welcome and high mass was in the official Shrine of St. Padre Pio in Sto Tomas, Batangas. The relic was then brought to UST for an open-air mass, and then this week to Cebu and Davao. It will go back to Sto. Tomas, Batangas before departure.

Padre Pio received the gift of the Stigmata of Jesus (the five wounds of Christ from his crucifixion), and he had it until he died. Padre Pio felt the real pain of the sufferings of Christ, but he “cooperated” with Jesus, surrendering his will and opening his heart to the Lord. A few minutes after he breathed his last, murmuring “Maria, Maria,” the wounds disappeared miraculously!


Padre Pio dedicated his life to helping save souls through his sacrifices and sufferings and patiently hearing confessions in the monastery in Peitrelcina where he lived. He inspired sinners from all over the world to repent through confession, and it is said that he could tell if anyone who came for him to confess were truly repentant.

Devotion to this saint has grown by leaps and bounds here in the country. There is a small shrine dedicated to him along C-5, a favorite of devotees especially on his feast day. By the way, this year is the golden anniversary of his stigmata.

After attending First Saturday mass in Carmel church in Lipa last week, Glenda Barretto and I went to Pare Pio’s shrine in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. The heart relic had arrived there earlier that morning and there were about 10 bishops, a number of priests, and the Papal Nuncio himself for the welcome mass. Deep within Sto. Tomas, the shrine is a beautiful and perfect setting for a pilgrimage. You have to walk for about three kilometers, because the road is one-way, and climb up to the chapels. Seniors, bring your canes and caregivers or strong friends to guide you to the chapels. But it’s worth the walk and the long queues.


Moving on from religious inspirations to political thoughts. The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has decisively ruled that we should count the votes the way they were counted in the actual elections, with a 25 percent threshold as set by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). The PET can now proceed with the recount for the Vice President’s seat, a contest between VP Leni Robredo and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The PET ruling to retain the threshold makes absolute practical sense, given that other protests in other electoral positions have also been resolved through the same threshold. Not applying this to the VP recount would mean that it was not consistent with the other electoral posts and was not the same election.

Some may be concerned with how or why the threshold was set to 25 percent when the COMELEC instructed the public to fully shade the iconic “itlog na bilog.” The answer given to that is the lack of “human touch.” Now that elections are automated, the counts are done non-sentient and non-empathic machines that cannot completely measure intent without a human element.

To many, the 25 percent threshold debate was just one part of the electoral protest drama brought about by the former senator’s protest. There were also many allegations of cheating hurled at the COMELEC and the technology provider Smartmatic—from unauthorized transmissions to vote manipulation and to revisions on the source code.

All of these allegations were answered when Smartmatic brought up one crucial question: did the results match the election returns? The answer is yes, considering that among the 2.7 million election returns printed during the process, not a single one is different from the other. This is due to the fact that the system counts at multiple levels, from precinct to national canvassing—and all differences from each phase of the counting can easily be caught if there was a single different electoral return.

There were even random manual audits done by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) during the elections, and all the results matched.


Throughout the past decade, Kape Kesada Art Gallery and the Laguna Artists Guild, founded and led by Dr. Nilo Valdecantos, have been catalysts in helping less fortunate communities. Some of the major works of the combined efforts of the two organizations include fund raising exhibit “Banhay Kulay” at the University of Asia and the Pacific back in 2009 in order to support the striving carvers and artists of Paete, Laguna. It was followed by a charity exhibit for those who are affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Its most recent exhibit back in 2017 entitled “Sinaunang Sayaw at Sining,” in partnership with Baile Foundation and Shangri-La Plaza, sought to preserve and promote Filipino culture through dance research and the arts.


This year,  Kape Kesada Art Gallery, in cooperation with LRI Design Plaza and Hubilla Design, brings the “Kalikasan, Kultura, at Kasaysayan” exhibit at LRI Art Pavillion,  LRI Design Plaza at Nicanor Garcia St., Bel Air. It runs until Oct. 17.

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