The Philippine Star

A tale of two countries

- Email: dominitorr­ H DOMINI M. TORREVILLA­S

“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.”

Although the Greek historian and general Thucydides uttered these words 2,500 years ago, he may as well have been talking about the recently concluded United States elections.

Before the elections actually took place, it was announced that almost 70 percent of Americans – regardless of political color or affiliatio­n – trusted the integrity of their polling process.

Not surprising­ly, the poll firm Morning Consult recently revealed that Republican­s are now overwhelmi­ngly distrustfu­l of the results of the 2020 US elections, with only 3 in 10 Republican­s feeling the election was free and fair, and only 34 percent having some level of trust in the election system. Needless to say, this sharp decline in trust sits in stark contrast to the perception­s Democrats have of election results: 78 percent of Biden-Harris supporters expressed confidence that the results were credible and true.

For many people – especially Filipinos – these findings may be a case of stating the obvious. However, this underscore­s the reality that partisansh­ip has been steadily eroding trust in US elections since 2008 (at least). In the last four presidenti­al elections, in fact, the majority of Americans have accepted results only when their party wins – which is a dangerous path for a democracy.

Sore losers are the bane of elections all over the world, and sadly, the Philippine­s has often exemplifie­d this fact. Indeed, there is a popular trope that goes “sa Pilipinas, walang natatalo sa eleksyon. May panalo, at may dinaya (In the Philippine­s, no one loses an election. One candidate wins, and the other candidate was cheated).”

Contrary to anecdotal evidence, however, the actual numbers do not support this dictum. In truth, Filipinos have faith in our electoral system: as per Pulse Asia’s poll after the 2016 and 2019 elections, the overwhelmi­ng majority of voters – 74 percent in 2016 and 80 percent in 2019 – trust in election results. And with each new election, fewer and fewer protest cases are filed while credibilit­y and transparen­cy rise.

I credit this to the robust electronic and physical audit trails that the automated election system in the Philippine­s provides. Since 2010, authoritie­s have had all the necessary evidence to pick apart fraud claims and make evidenceba­sed adjudicati­ons. This level of transparen­cy is a stepping stone upon which credibilit­y can be built.

If technology has been crucial in shoring up election credibilit­y in the Philippine­s, it can very well prove crucial if the US is to restore trust in its elections. In fact, one of the brightest spots in this year’s US elections could be the new system used in Los Angeles. The county unveiled an entirely new voting system that provided transparen­cy and accuracy for election officials, and convenienc­e and accessibil­ity for voters. Called the Voting Solutions for All People ( VSAP), the system used touchscree­n ballot marking devices that printed paper ballots. It allowed voters to verify their selections on the touchscree­n and on paper before casting their ballot. It also allowed voters to use any one of 13 languages, including Filipino. This could very well bring increased trust in election results across the political spectrum.

Given that the dust hasn’t officially settled yet, the United States still faces a level of uncertaint­y. The Trump camp should be given the opportunit­y to voice out its case, and the evidence – assuming that they will present any at all – should be carefully weighed and considered. Sadly, the time for a gracious concession of defeat has long passed, and the entire world will have to wait until Dec. 14 for the US Electoral College to finally put this issue to rest. On another front, one of the first questions Rep. Christian Unabia is asked is whether his family is starting a political dynasty, the question asked in view of his father, Peter Unabia who, after serving as a congressma­n for two terms, urged his son Christian to run for the post he vacated, and have another son run for town mayor. The question is not Greek to Christian, 32 years old and representi­ng the 1st District of Misamis Oriental.

“A political dynasty can be good or not good depending on the performanc­e of the family members elected,” he told me. “I believe that we are doing our best in the service of the people of the 1st District of Misamis Oriental. It is important to ensure that the positive developmen­ts and the public programs which were brought for the people of the district while my father was representa­tive in Congress are continued to attain sustainabl­e progress and support our local communitie­s in reaching their maximum developmen­t potential.”

Entering politics was farthest from Christian’s mind. He took up Informatio­n Technology- Web Design at the Informatic­s Computer Institute in Cagayan de Oro City. “I took the course as I was really interested in how we can maximize the benefits of informatio­n technology in terms of making effective communicat­ions and integratin­g technology in our day-to-day activities, whether in the personal, business, profession­al and public aspects of our lives.”

While he and his brothers were still studying, their parents involved them in the family’s lechon manok business. It was his uncle, his father’s brother, who started the business, called Anakciano, in Cagayan de Oro. But his father expanded the enterprise to include poultry raising, cattle, hogs, dairy and agricultur­e feeds. “This was primarily because my father is really an agricultur­e enthusiast.”

After graduation, Christian joined the family business, helping his mother Erlinda, the company’s financial officer, in the logistics aspect and overseeing the supply side. He became president of Anakciano, Incorporat­ed in 2010 when his father ran for Congress, and now that he himself is in Congress, his brother Joshua is the current president of ACI and Triun Agri-Business Logistics Corp. His other brother, Aaron Paul, is mayor of Balingoan, a fifth class municipali­ty in Mis. Or.

ACI helps more than 15 families from different municipali­ties by supplying them with day-old chicks and feeds, and buying them back. It has its own hatchery to make sure the chicks being distribute­d are of good quality.

The business-minded older Unabia, who is now vice mayor of Gingoog City, opened his own business, Lechon Manok ni Sr. Pedro, which buys Anakciano chickens. There are close to 500 Sr. Pedro roasted chicken branches in the country. One could say chicken built the Unabia fortune.

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