Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brownouts: An election issue

I fear that brownouts will mar next years automated elections.
Accurate, computerized elections will depend on the stability of electricity supply.
In Negros Oriental for instance, brownouts are a regular, common, scheduled occurrence.
Elections are held on the second Monday of May.
In Negros Oriental, brownouts are scheduled usually on Sunday.
So it is not unexpected that Sunday before the elections, there will be brownouts.
I can’t imagine a scenario of brownouts during elections.
But it is a reality.
In previous elections here in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental, brownouts are a part of the elections.
I recall, in the 2007 elections, a brownout was reported in city hall.
I was in Dumaguete at that time, and there was no brownout except at city hall.
Brownouts traditionally have been old electoral fraud tactics.
Power outages are resorted to by political camps to suppress the will of the people.
When there are power failures, it will be too hot to count the ballots.
Election canvassers will have to resort to candle-light ballot counting.
This will be susceptible to error, or worse, to fraud.
When there is brownout, there is darkness.
Out votes, our ballots, and our country’s future, will be hostaged by deliberate darkness.
I have yet to hear our local officials, who have been sitting in power for many many years, explain how these power outages will be resolved.
They have been in power for so long.
But they have never solved the brownout problems.
Power supply is a very basic service.
Once in Hongkong, I asked whether there are brownouts in Hongkong.
I was laughed at.
“Mister, if Hongkong has brownouts, Hongkong will collapse,” I was told bluntly.
But in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental, brownouts is like its part of our lives.
Brownouts are experiences that we have to endure.
We just have to grin and bear it.
Local officials seemingly don’t like to have it resolved.
Brownouts benefit politicians, specially during elections.
Besides, they have their own generators.
They don’t feel the urgency of eliminating brownouts.
But to me, brownouts should be a local election issue.
The officials who again seek our votes should be made to explain how they are going to resolve the perennial power outages.
What are they going to do with Noreco, which conveniently releases prepared reasons everytime there is a brownout.
Reasons range from falling branches of trees, to “regular maintenance” procedures.
I was still in short pants, and “regular maintenance” procedures already has been the predictable reason.
There should be some variety in giving out reasons for brownouts.
When will these brownouts end?
When will we be free from the bondage of power failures?
The coming elections should be our chance.
As the electorate, we should make these brownouts an election issue.
Electricity is a very important utility, next perhaps to water supply.
If we continue to vote for these officials who have not ensured the delivery of very basic services, then we deserve the kind of officials we elect.

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