In a novel awaiting publication, I write of a country where political insanity reigns. It is ruled by a despot who has rid her country of unwanted children and seniors; closed the sexual divide between men and women; outlawed marriage among the poor, except those of the same sex, and those who, although of different sexes, are sterile or past childbearing. Here, everyone may be put to sleep upon reaching seventy-five years or earlier, if sick or bed-ridden. The rich may still contract inter-sex marriage, but only if they are sterilized or agree to destroy any accidental offspring.
Here, the Empressident is the law, controlled by outside powers. She likes to believe she has popular support, but she manufactures that support by rigging all surveys and elections. When the people threaten to march against the unrestrained cheating, she shifts to public lottery as the method in choosing their leader. The qualifications and disqualifications for the highest office are expanded and anyone with all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications is instantly a candidate. This means thousands, if not millions, running.
The people observe ninety days of prayer and fasting, after which they hold the lottery at the capital’s biggest public square. The name of every candidate is written on a small piece of paper; this is rolled into a ball and thrown into a giant metal bin where the lucky winner is drawn. As soon as the lucky paper ball is drawn, all the other paper balls are dropped inside an incinerator and burned. Then the winner is proclaimed. No propaganda surveys, no public debates, no media ads anywhere, no political campaigning, no election-related violence or killings.
A lone critic protests that “the lottery does away with the people’s inviolable right to choose their own leader,” but the public, supported by the mass media and the official pollsters, dismiss the objection, saying, “just when did the people exercise such right to choose their own leader?” One well-known Bible scholar points out that lotteries have always enjoyed a sound standing in Scripture—the Apostles drew lots to choose the man who would replace Judas, after he hanged himself for betraying Christ, the Son of God, his Lord and Master. The objection vanishes like soap bubble, and the lottery stays as the means used for picking the nation’s leader.
I TRIED TO FOLLOW what was going on at the Commission on Elections on Friday, last day of filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 presidential elections. I could not believe what I was hearing. By 3:30 p.m., as I went on board my regular weekly taping of my Sunday TV program on GNN (Destiny Cable), I was told 89 presidential candidates had already filed. I was momentarily distracted by reports that Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had finally decided to run for president, after saying no and no again the day before for the nth time, and filing his COC for mayor of Davao. The reports turned out to be completely false, although a Comelec spokesman was quoted as saying Duterte has until December to replace his party’s secretary-general Martin Dino, who has filed for president, without any chance of any respectable showing.
For a while I thought life was finally imitating art; that the Comelec had adopted my fictional idea of a lottery as the method for choosing the President; and that everybody who thought they had all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications had decided to file. By Saturday morning, the major newspapers reported 130 presidential filers, 19 for vice president, and 172 for senator. Although the Constitution imposes minimal requirements for the presidency—-i.e., one should be a natural-born citizen, a registered voter, able to read and write (on election day), 40 years of age, and a resident of the country 10 years immediately preceding the election—-it became clear that President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s dismal performance in office had set the bar so low that even mere tricycle drivers think they can now run the government. Others thought they could run without complying with the constitutional requirements, as evidenced by one who is not yet 40 but claims to have exceptional academic credentials to compensate for her not being of age, and by Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, who is neither a natural-born citizen nor a resident of the country for the last 10 years immediately preceding the elections.
Exactly what are we seeing here? One newspaper calls it a sign of vibrant Philippine democracy. I call it an outbreak of insanity. If indeed “RPS Philippines” under Aquino is a sinking ship, as many of us have been saying until now, and it is a scientific fact that rats are the first to swim out of every sinking ship, then we should be witnessing a massive exodus of vermin from this one. But what kind of rats are these that are racing to board it? These are not rats but patriots wanting to save the nation, we are told, and there should be thousands, if not millions, running for president. In fact, we should all be running for president, if we were intelligent than we are. It is the patriotic thing to do.
But can there be any real patriotism in taking part in an election that promises to totally wreck the democratic process? The greater patriotism, it seems to me, lies in exposing and opposing it, in making sure that we abstain from our customary “elections” until the State is finally able to guarantee a truly clean, honest, transparent and truly credible process, without any tinge or stigma of Smartmatic’s outrageous “hocus PCOS.” Otherwise, we must accept the fact that the inmates have taken over the asylum for real, no longer merely as a figure of speech.
Indeed, a real insanity epidemic has broken out, far more dangerous than any of the epidemics that had migrated to our shores over the past so many years from the dark African continent. The least prepared individuals would like to procure the most important positions for themselves, creating all the necessary theatrics to distract the nation from the necessary task of ensuring a clean, honest, transparent and credible process. Instead of debating whether the nation should hold an election where the voting machine has been divested of all the safety and security features and accuracy mechanisms required by law, it is compelled to debate whether a non-Filipino with an American family should be allowed to run for president, just because she is backed by a powerful conglomerate that believes it should own the next government, and she is said to be rating high in the paid propaganda surveys.
In the wake of this development, it has become absolutely necessary to require all those seeking high office to submit to an extensive psychiatric test, as a requirement for allowing them to pursue their bid for the office. What happened to us in the case of Aquino should not happen again. In 2010, candidate Aquino nixed such a test just by dismissing the proposal with contempt, saying he would not dignify it. The result is now history. We all know he is mentally sick, except that we do not know the exact name of his illness. We should not repeat our mistake. All 130 “candidates” should be subjected to a rigorous test as part of the qualifying process. While the tests are ongoing, the “candidates” should probably be quarantined and not allowed to mingle with the population; their relatives, friends, associates and private psychiatrists should be given “visiting hours.”
Whether or not they pass the psychiatric test, they should all be asked to declare whether they are prepared to accept the results of any kind of elections in 2016. The members and supporters of the National Transformation Council are not. They will resist any farce, not just passively but actively if necessary. And the numbers of those ready and eager to reject another farce (after the 2010 and 2013 exercises) are increasing every day around the country. This is where we need not just hundreds but thousands, if not millions, of patriots who will want to lead.
TODAY, pursuant to the Comelec rule that petitions for the disqualification of candidates may be filed only after the deadline for the filing of COCs, which fell on Friday, Oct. 16, I will be filing before the Comelec a petition for the disqualification of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares as a candidate for president. I will be assisted by Atty. Manuelito Luna, who is the counsel on record in the quo warranto suit against Mrs. Llamanzares before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). SET petitioner Rizalito David has joined the 130 for whom I am recommending a psychiatric test, but I don’t believe the SET petition is affected by David’s unexamined desire to become president.
My petition is purely constitutional; based on the Constitution, and the admitted facts of the case, Mrs. Llamanzares is not even legally a Filipino citizen at this point, she could be naturalized as a Filipino, but as of now she is actually stateless. Not all the beer in the world could change that. Two top business executives, accompanied by a public relations practitioner cum newspaper columnist, were earlier reported to have met with a Western diplomat to ask if it was all right for them to bankroll the candidacy of Mrs. Llamanzares. The answer was reportedly vague, but it was clearly one way of asking whether the diplomat’s government supports Mrs. Llamanzares. After the phenomenal success of “Heneral Luna,” especially among the young, that would be a dangerous exercise.
ERRATUM. In my Friday column, an error occurred. The PAL airborne incident occurred not two hours before landing in Vancouver, but two hours before landing in New York, after stopping in Vancouver, the plane’s only stop. Sorry for the glitch.