POSTSCRIPT / March 23, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Skip Party-list portion of the ballot on May 10

SKIP PARTY-LIST: Postscript presses its suggestion for voters to skip the Party-list part of the ballot on May 10 — if they are not sure FOR WHOM (referring to a person or nominee) they are voting.

A registered Party-list group will gain one House seat only if it garners at least two percent of the total votes cast. Of some 35 million votes expected to be cast, two percent will be 700,000 votes.

If enough disgruntled voters skip the Party-lists, the dubious PL groups will have a harder time getting at least 700,000 votes entitling them to a seat.

A boycott is our only defense against the bastardization of the Party-list system and the use of marginalized sectors as Trojan horses of discredited politicians and sly operators who cannot win a House seat on their own merit.

Unless we know the nominees hiding behind the false facade of a Party-list, we should never consider voting for the group.

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UNMASK THEM: But the Commission on Elections is allowing Party-lists to submit a minimum of five nominees by March 26, this Friday!

The poll body may be unwittingly playing into the hands of manipulators using Party-lists to sneak into Congress, gobble up pork barrel and wallow in the perks enjoyed by congressmen.

One trick is to HIDE THE REAL NOMINEE at the end of the long list. When the PL wins a seat, the first nominees back out, and the real nominee lurking at the end of the line steps forward to claim the coveted seat and everything that goes with it.

Our suggestion: Each Party-list must be allowed a maximum (not minimum) of only three (not five) nominees, whose identities must be publicized. Anybody not listed should not be allowed to substitute for any nominee who backs out or is disqualified.

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DISQUALIFICATIONS: We also suggest that these persons be barred from being nominated by a Party-list:

* Anyone who has run for public office in any of the last three national or local elections.

* Anyone who has been a governor, congressman, senator, Cabinet member, or held a public office of the rank of director or higher, or has been a presidential appointee.

* Anyone who has served with the military or the police with the rank of colonel or its equivalent, or higher.

* Anyone who is not publicly involved with the marginalized sector he wants to represent.

* Add this: Any Party-list that has won at least one House seat in three elections will be considered no longer marginalized and henceforth barred from PL elections.

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WHO THEY?: Based on their acronyms, or even their long names, the advocacy of most Party-lists is not clear. Voters should beware of nice-sounding names of allegedly marginalized groups whose vision is hazy.

Would you say these PL acronyms are clear or descriptive enough?: 1-AANI, 1-ABAA; 1-AHAPO; 1-AK; 1-CARE: 1-NET; 1-TUBIG; 1-UTAK; 1ST KABAGIS; 1ST PRISA; A TAMBAY; A-IPRA; AMA; AAMA; AMANA; AAMBIS-OWA; AANI; AAPS; AASCA; ABA; ABAKADA; ABAMIN; ABAY PARAK; ABBA-AMA; ABC; ABO; ABONO; ABOT TANAW; ABROAD; ABS; ACMA; ACTS; ADA; ADAM; ADD; AFPSEGCO; AG; AGAP; AGBIAG; AGILA; AGRI; AHON; AK; AKAP; AKB; AKI; AKMA-PTM; AKO; AKO AGILA; AKO BAHAY; AKSI; ALE; ALIF; ALIM; ALLUMAD; ALMA; ALMANA; ALNA; ALON; ALUM; AMANG; AME; AMIN; AMS; ANAD; ANG KASANGGA; ANG NICP; ANG PADER; ANG PDR; ANG TSINOY; CHINOY; ANUPA; APEC; APELA; APO; APOI; ARAL; ARARO; ARC; ARCAPP; AS; AT; ATM; ATONG PAGLAUM; ATS; AVE; AVPAP; AWAT; BAGO; BANAT; BANTAY; BAYANI; BH; BIDA (BATANG IWAS); BIDA (BINIGKIS); BIGKIS; BINHI; BUHAY; BUKID; BUTIL; CIBAC; COFA; CONSLA; CPM; DAMAYAN; DIWA; EMMANUEL; FIL-MUS; FIRM 24-K; IVAP; KAAGAPAY; KAAKBAY; KAKUSA; KALAHI; KALINGA; KASAPI; KLBP; LPGMA; LYPAD; NCCP; OPO; ORAGON; PACYAW; PBA; PCL; PFP; PM (MANGGAGAWA); PM (MASDA); SABOD; SAGIP; SB; SMART; UCAP; UFS; UNI-MAD; UNLAD PILIPINAS; WOMENPOWER; YACAP; YES WE CAN.

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THAT’S NOT NEWS: Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales has been reported as saying he would never follow illegal orders of the President in case of a failure of elections in May.

Of course, he would not. Or if he intends to, he would not say so publicly.

This is a classic example of non-news. The defense secretary is sworn to follow the law and all lawful orders.

What would be big news is if Gonzales said that he would obey illegal orders of the President.

But most readers fail to spot the difference, and mistake the banner as a sign that the Cabinet official is now distancing himself from the President.

The casual reader is not likely to notice the line buried in the report that Gonzales said he could not imagine the Chief Executive issuing illegal orders: “I never thought for a moment that the President will issue any illegal order….”

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PRIOR PERMISSION: Some stories on a recent Supreme Court decision keep saying the tribunal “allowed” the President to appoint the replacement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno when he retires on May 17.

Why will the permission of the Court be necessary for a President to perform his/her constitutional duty to appoint the Chief Justice? Without SC’s prior permission, the President’s hands are tied?

What is simply needed is for a vacancy to exist and for the President to draw only from a list submitted by the Bar and Judicial Council. There is nothing in the Constitution requiring the prior permission of the Supreme Court.

In the heads and leads of some news stories on that SC decision, newspapers do not seem to agree if the Court ruled that the President “may” or “can” appoint the incoming Chief Justice. Which is which?

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 23, 2010)

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