POSTSCRIPT / June 7, 2007 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pineda will come out winner if she concedes

SORE LOSERS: By right, the dominant parties have official copies of the election returns detailing the votes that the candidates got in the May 14 elections.

Unless the returns have been tampered with, or the party runners have been sleeping or a Garci-type operator has taken over, the candidates of the major parties should know within three days of the elections if they won or lost, and by how many votes.

Yet right in Metro Manila, the capital of this benighted Republic, three weeks after the elections, some candidates are still in fighting mode, saying that the count is not over yet and that more votes would be delivered eventually to make them winners.

If the harassed Manila teachers into whose hands have been entrusted the ballot box and its vital contents just carried on foot the all-important poll package directly to the Commission on Elections main office in Intramuros, by this time they would have submitted everything.

The foot-dragging, sulking and threats of mayhem from some losing candidates are unfortunate.

* * *

LAWYERS UNITE: It was with great relief, therefore, for us to witness lawyers representing various parties and candidates in the national canvassing at the Philippine International Convention Center casting aside their clashing interests as attorneys of rival partisan factions.

Rising above the partisanship of their clients, some 30 election lawyers came together yesterday at the PICC and declared: “Let’s GO FORWARD and aim for UNITY!”

The national board of canvassers, btw, has decided that only the top 10 of the 12 frontrunners in the senatorial race will be proclaimed senators-elect for now.

The winners of the 11 th and the 12 th slots will be decided by the uncanvassed votes from Maguindanao; Basilan; three municipalities in Surigao del Norte; Biñan, Lagua; and about 800 votes from Lanao del Sur.

* * *

DICE ROLL: In Pampanga, businessman Bong Pineda and his wife Lilia — who had lost the gubernatorial fight to ex-parish priest Ed Panlilio — are missing a chance to display class and civic-mindedness before their provincemates.

From their own copies of the election returns, the Pinedas know the actual precinct-by-precinct count province-wide. They know they had lost the governorship — by a slim 1,147 votes all right, but still lost it. Outgoing Gov. Mark Lapid knows that too, and he has the grace to accept it.

After spending reportedly close to a billion pesos in a bid to capture the governorship, and after they banked on the expensive assurance of a slew of officials and campaigners, the Pinedas are understandably bitter. They cannot bring themselves to conceding defeat to a rank novice who had neither party, nor ticket, nor funds.

But that was how the dice rolled. And Bong Pineda, a gaming expert I heard, should begin to understand it.

* * *

LAWYERS’ SUIT: So they can hear what their cabalen told them through the ballot, the Pinedas should stop listening to their lawyers insisting on an electoral protest.

Tell your sob story to a lawyer and ask if you should file a case, and he is likely to say “Yes, let’s file it pronto!” Generally speaking, lawyers thrive on cases. The more cases they handle, the more fees they collect. Makes business sense.

That was the same sad experience of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, ironically a lawyer himself. Many of the libel suits he had filed against media should not have been filed at all, but his lawyers must have chorused “File!” and went posthaste to the prosecutor’s office which is under the Executive department.

It was a crazy thing to do. Almost all of the cases filed will outlive the presidency of his wife, who bows out in 2010. When that bye-bye time comes, you think the prosecutors and judges up the judicial ladder will still be beholden to the Arroyos?

* * *

LAISSEZ-FAIRE: Capampangans may tolerate some jueteng and its attendant corruption here and there, but when perceived jueteng lords move to capture the capitolyo itself, plus the municipios down the line, the people will have to say “Tama na po.”

The Pinedas should respect that.

It is not the end of the world for Bong and Baby Pineda, who appears by most accounts to have amassed enough wealth to last them and their children several lifetimes.

Gloria, their cumare in the Palace, can help assuage the pain. While asking them to help her make the home province jueteng-free, she can give them a laissez-faire ticket to operate in Camarines, now the territory of her son congressman-elect Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, and in Negros Occidental where her brother-in-law Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo is also a congressman.

But not in Pampanga anymore, please.

* * *

BIG WINNER: In the same way that ill-gotten wealth can be “laundered” and plowed into respectable enterprises, there are also ways of “laundering” one’s image, one’s name.

The Pinedas can still refurbish their image in Pampanga. The first step, it seems, is for them to acknowledge that their cabalen had sent a signal that they want a moral change.

Recognizing that, Lilia can then concede — and maybe even offer the incoming governor assistance in his worthwhile pro-people endeavors.

Her husband Bong may decide to do business elsewhere, but Lilia can promise to stay, extend her hand to Among Ed, and help him bring about positive change in Pampanga.

If she makes this grand move, she would emerge a big winner!

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 7, 2007)

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