POSTSCRIPT / November 20, 2011 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA must stay; Noy needs her as distraction

DISTRACTION: President Noynoy Aquino and his Yellow legions must be rejoicing after they succeeded in blocking the departure Friday of Rep. Gloria Arroyo despite a Supreme Court order restraining the enforcing of what operates as a justice department hold order.

President Aquino needs Ms Arroyo’s visible presence. She has been a convenient excuse and distraction for his continuing failure to meet the rising expectations of the masses who had swallowed his promise of change, especially in improving the quality of their lives.

If suddenly the former president were gone, Mr. Aquino and his propagandists would no longer have a high-profile figure to blame for everything that goes wrong. And many things seem to be going wrong nowadays.

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VACUUM: If only for that, aside from making her pay very dearly for her and her husband’s alleged involvement in big-time corruption, Ms Arroyo should stay.

Without her as a hate-object set up in the background, the vacuum of accomplishments of the Aquino administration would suddenly appear more pronounced in the gathering darkness.

With the distraction removed, the people will see and feel more clearly their deprivation: the scarcity of jobs and the basic amenities of decent life, the widespread hunger, the rising prices of essential goods, the feeling of not being safe in the street and even right in one’s home.

Gloria Arroyo and her husband Mike Arroyo – for whom the Yellow propagandists have succeeded in fomenting loathing – must stay. PNoy needs them around.

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RUSH POLL RAPS: But Ms Arroyo’s staying has nothing to do with the Supreme Court’s Temporary Restraining Order suspending the effect of the Watch List Order of the Department of Justice that is routinely misused as a Hold Departure Order.

In fact, if that TRO were followed, as it is an order from the highest court in the land, Ms Arroyo would be somewhere over the rainbow by this time

Her failure to depart last Friday stemmed from the arrest warrant issued by a Pasay judge after he found probable cause in the election sabotage complaint that the Commission on Elections rushed against her and two other minor officials.

The unresolved question over the validity of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s issuing a Watch List Order is different and separate from the election sabotage case.

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LAME EXCUSE: De Lima may not use the Comelec complaint, which came three days after the TRO, to rationalize her contemptuous defiance of the SC.

At the time De Lima junked the TRO, she was saying all over the place that she could not enforce the SC order because they (the Aquino camp) still had to file a motion for reconsideration (MR), but that they could not file an MR because they had not received the TRO.

The absence of an MR at that point merely confirms that her excuse (that their projected MR had to be resolved first) did not hold water. Yet she was already invoking a hypothetical MR on a TRO that she had not received because she left the office early.

She wanted the SC to wait till she had the time to read the TRO and file an MR?

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POINTS TO NOY: But the lawyer in De lima has been smart enough to always make a public display of first consulting President Aquino before she announces a potentially problematic decision.

Since her experience with the administration’s gross mishandling of the Luneta 2010 hostage-taking fiasco, she has been careful to announce that she had consulted the President and that he said okay, go ahead.

If she has to, she can always point to the President. She could be disbarred, cited for contempt and ambushed in the Commission on Appointments, but she would get a Gold Medal and her boss’ grateful support when it is time to fill the Liberal Party senatorial ticket in 2013.

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TRIO CHARGED: Would you believe that the election fraud that made some losers win and some winners lose in 2007 was committed by only three conspirators: then President Arroyo, Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Comelec regional official Lintang Bedol?

Only those three individuals stand accused in the Comelec complaint as having plotted and carried out the alleged massive and complicated operations.

A conspiracy of just three individuals may look incredible to some people, including those who see electoral fraud as endemic, yet the Comeled rushed the complaint and the Pasay judge found probable cause after leafing through the voluminous documents.

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COMPUTERIZED CHEATING: Now that the Comelec has followed the coach’s order for a last two-minute dash, let us open the Pandora’s box and look into a bigger and better documented fraud – the alleged electronic manipulation of the 2010 elections where Mr. Aquino won as president.

If his administration is indeed for transparency, good government and justice, as it often claims, let the ax fall wherever it must.

For starters, let an independent commission look into the documented complaints, including that of the Tanggulang Demokrasya (TanDem), that the Comelec turned over its exclusive powers and duty to manage elections to a foreign entity that made possible electronic cheating.

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SAFEGUARDS DROPPED: TanDem, an independent, non-partisan civic group, said, “While we hail the move to revisit the 2004 and 2007 elections, the review process should go beyond. The 2010 elections should also be scrutinized.”

The group said the safeguards in the automated system in the 2010 polls were illegally disregarded. It said that election returns were deliberately passed without signatures, opening the process and results to fraud that undermined the legitimacy of the results.

Some anomalies exposed were: the suspension of the digital signature of the Board of Elections Inspectors, the non-use of the required ultraviolet scanners designed to authenticate the ballots being fed into counting machine, the suspension of the machine’s function to display the ballot instead of merely the word “CONGRATULATIONS,” the disregard of the law’s provision on data retention when the Comelec destroyed memory cards and compact flash cards as early as May 15, 2010.

TanDem also questioned the uncompleted source code review and pre-testing of the counting machines as required by law, the grossly defective implementation of the Random Manual Count in violation of the law in terms of accuracy, and the disenfranchisement of two to eight million voters in the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial elections.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 20, 2011)

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