POSTSCRIPT / January 10, 2010 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Bubble bursts: Villar closing in on Aquino

THE CHASE: It was bound to happen. Like runaway stock market prices, bouncing presidential survey figures appear to be settling, or correcting themselves, to more realistic and credible levels.

Many political observers are not surprised with the latest Social Weather Stations survey showing Sen. Manny Villar (Nacionalista) jumping closer to Sen. Noynoy Aquino (Liberal), who has been leading by the proverbial mile in the 2010 presidential race.

The SWS surveys for Dec. 5-10 and Dec. 27-28 show Aquino and Villar in the two-digit lead pack with former President Erap Estrada. A distant fourth is administration bet Gibo Teodoro whose 5-percent standing did not change:

 Dec. 5-10Dec. 27-28
Aquino46%44%
Villar27%33%
Estrada16%15%
Teodoro5%5%

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TRUE VALUE: It seems the intrinsic values of the candidates are slowly being discerned through the packaging and the initial emotional impulses of the public. Note also that the number of undecided respondents has gone down from 4 to 1 percent.

The Dec. 27-28 survey showed Aquino’s previous commanding lead of 19 percentage points eroded to just 11. If the candidates maintain their current trajectory and no unusual event intervenes, Villar could pass Aquino by March.

Some 2,100 adult respondents were asked: “Sa mga sumusunod na pangalan sa listahang ito, sino po ang malamang ninyong iboboto bilang PRESIDENTE ng Pilipinas, kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon?” (From the names on this list, who are you likely to vote for President if elections were held today?)

The survey has a plus/minus 2.2-percent margin of error. It was reportedly commissioned by San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, the House Minority Leader.

* * *

LEGAL CONTORTIONS: It is cynical to say, without offering evidence, that if the Supreme Court and the Commission on Elections allow President Arroyo to run for a congressional seat in Pampanga it is because they are operating under her influence.

That accusation is most unkind to the tribunal and the poll body. If that reckless statement is calculated to pressure and influence the two bodies to reject her candidacy, that ploy will not work.

The issue is clear and simple. If Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications to run for the congressional seat in the second district of her native province, the SC and the Comelec have no choice but to allow her.

They have to hew to the law. It will require extraordinary legal contortions to concoct a valid reason to prohibit her candidacy.

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POLITICS OF HATE: The main argument of those opposing her candidacy is that President Arroyo’s running for Congress would violate Section 4, Article VII, of the Constitution that says: “…The President shall not be eligible for any reelection….”

To these struggling students of the English language, reelection means running again. To them, a sitting official who runs for another position is running for reelection. A president running for congressman is, to them, running for reelection.

It is an absurd view, but their extreme dislike for President Arroyo seems to have clouded their vision.

This seething hatred is not only bad for the President but also for her critics. In their consuming desire to destroy her, some people also end up destroying the country and themselves.

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UNFAIR RULING: On another issue, many reasonable people cannot understand why the Supreme Court ruled in GR No. 189698 (Quinto vs Comelec) that appointive officials running in the 2010 elections are not deemed resigned.

That ruling may be justified in the case of elective officials serving under a mandate, but those who were merely appointed are a different variety. They should relinquish their posts once they seek an elective position.

We now have a situation where appointive officials, some of them in the Cabinet, who can use their positions to advance their candidacies, harass enemies, accommodate favored parties, and even make money on the side.

Imagine the undue advantage of, say, Gibo Teodoro if — pursuant to the SC decision — he did not resign and give up the awesome machinery of the defense department. But the gentleman quit and is now running fair and square.

* * *

NOT FINAL, EXECUTORY: The Comelec issued Resolution No. 8678 saying that appointive officials who filed their certificates of candidacy between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1, 2009, are deemed resigned.

The resolution was questioned before the Supreme Court, and the tribunal struck it down last Dec. 1. So now, per SC ruling, appointive officials running in the coming elections need not resign.

The SC decision, which has disturbing and dangerous implications, is now the subject of a motion for reconsideration, which means that it is unresolved. Hence, it is not final and executory.

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CREDIT GROWTH: DEBATABLE ORDERS: Using the case of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera to illustrate a point, without meaning to say she is abusing her office…. She filed her candidacy papers last Dec. 15 for a congressional seat in Quezon province as substitute for her sister.

Sitting as justice secretary under the controversial SC ruling, Devanadera is still signing resolutions involving petitions for review and other administrative orders.

Is it legal and proper for her to continue signing those orders considering that the SC decision is not yet final and executory? Some parties may question before the proper forum those orders she has signed since Dec. 15.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 10, 2010)

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