POSTSCRIPT / May 16, 2019 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Duterte won fresh vote of confidence?

TWO days after the last vote was cast and counted, it looks like the people have given President Duterte a new vote of confidence by electing all his favored candidates for senator. That is, assuming it was an honest election – not an automated deception.

To this observer, the indicators of Duterte’s enjoying, or claiming, popular approval are senatorial wannabes Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa and Imee Marcos – who as of deadline yesterday looked secure in their assigned slots in the winning bracket.

Without Duterte, we think these first-timers in the race would hardly make it. They have nothing to commend them to the Senate. In fact, Bato the top cop wonders aloud what he would do in the legislature. (Mag -OJT [On the-Job Trainee] kayo, Sir!)

In his May 11 campaign speech in Pasig, President Duterte explained why he needed to pack them in: “Kailangan ko ng mga tao sa Senado. Okay sila (doon) pero nadi-delay kasi ayaw. Yung iba kakausapin pa.” (I need people in the Senate. The senators are okay but some things are delayed because they do not want it. The others, you need to talk to them first.)

A vote for his candidates, especially those with tainted reputation or seen as not cut out for lawmaking, is a blind act of faith for their guarantor Duterte and not for his chosen ones.

A sweep of the 12 Senate seats by the President’s anointed tightens his grip on the chamber, dealing a blow to the independence of the Senate, and eroding the system of checks and balances among co-equal bodies of the government.

We are disturbed by reports that almost 1,000 of the 85,000 Vote Counting Machines malfunctioned, requiring the replacing of VCMs and of SD (Secure Digital) cards in a risky procedure; of names appearing on the receipts other than the candidates picked by the voter; of suspicious long lulls of the parallel server of a citizens’ watch group while the Commission on Elections server kept churning out data.

We are also intrigued by a graph posted by a mathematician showing that the ranking of the top 16 Senate candidates hardly changed from the start of the count through 12 hours of transmission – as if their scores had been pre-programmed.

Do the glitches and aberrations indicate an ill-prepared and mismanaged Automated Election System? Or do they hint of tampering carried out with intent to cheat or to hijack the midterm election that is widely regarded as a referendum on the Duterte presidency?

In our Postscript of May 12, the eve of the election where some 61 million were registered to participate, we asked: “Voters are all set, but is the Comelec ready?” The morning-after answer sounds like a “No!”

Now there are suggestions for a post-election audit — the usual probe or mopping up or cover-up? – which to this tired observer is too little too late. It will not undo the damage.

As distraction was being thrown around (deliberately?) before the election, nobody seemed to have thought of checking to guarantee the integrity of the VCMs, the SD cards, and the software running the hardware.

Now we are whining and tearing our hair. TOO LATE!

 Open letter to ‘Otso Diretso’ candidates

I WRITE to thank you for the sacrifice, the hard work and the dedication you showed in your brave campaign.  You offered our people an alternative, a choice of conscience. Though the odds were long, resources short and the field uneven, you gave all you had and fought the good fight.  Yours was truly a coalition of courage, and we cannot thank you enough.

Our people have spoken, and they have made their choices.  I must say with all my heart that this day perhaps must rank among the saddest in my 76 years of life. For this is not who we truly are.  As a people, we are far better than this.

How can we return a Marcos to lead us into the future when she has not even reconciled herself to the dark days of the past of which she is a continuing part?  How can she ask our people to move on after she had repeatedly used the currencies of dishonesty and deceit, not to speak of her attempts to revise the cruel history of the Marcos years?

How can we reward the spineless subservience of a Go or the bumbling bravado of Bato, he who gained fame as one of the architects of a bloody drug war?

How can we bring back to the Senate people charged with corrupt conduct in the person of a Revilla or with the acknowledged incompetence of a Lapid?

How can we live with the silent complicity of a Cayetano, Angara, Villar, Pimentel or Tolentino when their “leader” curses our God, demeans our women, and allows a predator nation to ravage our marine resources?

This is not who the Filipinos truly are.

Indeed, we will miss what you had on offer: the brilliance of the youthful Bam Aquino and the experienced Mar Roxas, the courage of an Erin Tañada and a Gary Alejano, the legal competence of a Chel Diokno and the improbable narrative of a Pilo Hilbay, the dedication to Seniors of a Romy Macalintal and the feisty grit of Marawi’s Samira Gutoc who showed us how to take a stand.

You have given us reasons to continue the struggle, to be engaged on issues that truly matter.  From today, it will be Otso Diretso Plus.  You will be joined by the thousands of volunteers and the youth of the land who supported you and others who will take up the causes you raised.

It was not enough perhaps, but in the end you have given us a common sense of purpose, an unfinished quest to pursue.  That is the stuff of dreams.  You inspire us to continue this marathon journey – for the sake of our children and the country we love.

Salamat, at tuloy ang laban!

*Ed Garcia, Lolo Volunteer for 8D who will never give up!  14 May 2019.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 16, 2019)

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