An administrative remedy to a constitutional problem
Why did the Commission on Elections en banc “accept” or at least “receive” Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s belated substitute candidacy, despite a formal legal opposition to it, while it summarily rejected as “nuisance candidates” so many others, against whom there was no disqualification complaint, just because they had no known organization, political base, or money? What happened to the equal protection of the laws? Why does Duterte appear so favored, and the others so discriminated against?
By allowing Duterte to file his CoC for President as a substitute candidate for one Martin Dino, who was running for Mayor of Pasay City, the Comelec, particularly its chairman Andres Bautista, has raised more questions than answers.
According to Bautista, the Comelec decision to receive Duterte’s CoC was purely “administrative” and “ministerial” — without prejudice to the Comelec finally ruling on the petition filed by broadcaster Ruben Castor for the mayor’s disqualification. But the error is not only apparent but real. And the speculations it has triggered are not the least helpful to anybody, not even to Duterte.
The petition to disqualify Duterte has raised a legal, if not constitutional, issue. The remedy should be legal or constitutional. How could Comelec say its action is simply administrative and “ministerial,” when Détente did not file an original CoC before the deadline for the submission of such documents, but rather filed a substitute CoC after the “original candidate” had withdrawn, without any prior determination that his CoC was valid? Shouldn’t the Comelec have first made sure that Dino’s CoC was valid, before accepting Duterte’s “substitution”?
Similar to the Grace Poe puzzler
The Comelec’s action on Duterte is embarrassingly akin to its action in the case of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares. After the First and Second Divisions disqualified her and cancelled her CoC for her not being a natural-born citizen and failing to meet the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution, the Comelec refused to strike her out of the list of certified presidential candidates.
By what authority did the Comelec declare as an “innocuous,” “innocent,” or “honest” mistake, Dino’s handwritten entry that he was running “for Mayor of Pasay” instead of “for President”? Was there any effort on his part to correct his “mistake” before the Comelec called it an “innocuous, innocent or honest” mistake?
Each time I write a small check, and my handwriting shake, and I fail to perfect just one letter in a word on the check, I have to put my initial above or below that letter after redoing it; but this is no guarantee that the bank will honor my correction. Very often, an over-zealous but not too intelligent bank teller would insist that I replace the whole check. How about the Comelec?
Just like a spoiled ballot
In past manual elections, as I pointed out in a previous column, a ballot is declared “spoiled” and discarded if the voter writes the wrong candidate for the wrong position. This is what happened in the case of Dino’s CoC. Should the Comelec then have declared it “spoiled” and discarded it completely? But this didn’t happen.
Had Dino not withdrawn, and he wasn’t declared a “nuisance candidate” either, which candidacy would he have been allowed to pursue without amending his CoC–for President or for Mayor? Had he insisted on running for President, would the Comelec not have declared him a “nuisance candidate” for not being “able to read and write,” as required by the Constitution, or for not having the money to wage a presidential campaign, just like most of the 130 “candidates,” who are otherwise eligible under the Constitution but demonstrably impecunious?
Undue risks to the Commissioners
Will the Commissioners who had agreed to receive the CoC “ministerially” still find it possible to reject it “legally” should the hearings turn against Duterte? Will they not be compelled to defend by every possible means their “administrative” decision from any legal finding that would require disqualifying the substitute candidate?
This problem appears to have arisen after Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who cast the lone dissenting vote at the en banc, failed to get satisfactory answers from Duterte’s counsel during the hearing of the First Division. In addition, legal opposition to Duterte’s candidacy is mounting from the ranks of those who have been declared “nuisance candidates.”
Rizalito David, the petitioner in the quo warranto suit against Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, says he would be filing a disqualification petition against Duterte anytime today. David has filed a CoC for president, but is threatened with disqualification because he is “only a broadcaster” and has no money. I got this straight from the horse’s mouth during the Christmas get-together at Save the Nation Movement last Saturday.
Where is it all coming from?
The situation could turn ugly. Some people are already beginning to ask serious accusatory questions about Bautista and Duterte. Who has such power as to be able to turn Bautista and his colleagues so completely from being extremely wary about Duterte one day to being unusually enthusiastic about him the next day? Not even President B.S. Aquino 3rd, with his sinking “minus 26 percent” popularity, or the combined influence of the Jose Abad Santos-Vicente Lim-Josefa Llanes Escoda troika, has such capability. Do we need the assistance of our foreign patrons to explain the mystery?
This is not to suggest that PNoy is completely out of it. According to our usually reliable Malacañang source, LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas has tried to get PNoy to support the move against Duterte, but PNoy redflagged it. Meanwhile, the “smart money” of the oligarchy seems to have shifted from the camp of the disqualified presidential candidate Grace Poe-Llamanzares to that of Duterte. The various crooked survey organizations have begun bombarding us with paid propaganda surveys showing Duterte to be on top of the heap. And this the conscript media simply regurgitate without critical analysis for the unthinking, the gullible and the naive.
New low for PNoy makes Duterte rating credible
The fraudsters try to make themselves credible by coming out with alleged surveys showing PNoy lying on the ocean floor, as far public satisfaction with him and personal popularity are concerned. Since this is so obvious to everybody, the fraudsters could pick any negative number for PNoy (minus 26 percent or minus 50), and the crowd will readily accept it. Thereafter, it becomes so easy to come out with another bogus survey showing Duterte on top, and expecting the same unthinking, gullible and naive crowd will accept it.
A recent analysis of one of the latest SWS alleged surveys claiming Duterte’s “surge” in the political preference of the public, by my Times colleague Yen Makabenta, shows one way of rigging these so-called surveys. There are a few other ways, including fiddling with the basic statistics. A good friend of mine, who heads a US-based think tank and is monitoring local developments in the run-up to the next election, has observed that in all the alleged surveys he had seen the “undecided” occupied not more than one percent, and yet wherever he had gone and asked people about their preferred candidate, they all tended to tell him they had not yet decided, and were not even sure they would vote. His own reading is that there are more undecided than decided.
The new normal polling
As I have pointed out repeatedly in previous columns, these surveys are no longer used to measure public opinion but rather to manufacture public opinion; no longer simply for the usual primitive mind-conditioning but rather to pre-determine the actual results of elections. Even in the most notorious places in Mindanao, where the results of national elections are arbitrarily dictated by powerful warlords who sell their people’s votes wholesale to the highest bidders, these fraudsters are able to predict with amazing “accuracy” how the people there would vote.
A scientific impossibility, but a political reality. Once their alleged survey results are “accepted” by the gullible public, they are used by the syndicates rigging the electoral process to dictate the results. This allows the fraudsters and their associates in the conscript press to claim how accurate they are, at the end of the process.
It now appears that Duterte has succeeded in gaining control of the propaganda surveys industry, in the same manner that in the 2010 presidential campaign, candidate Manny Villar had succeeded in gaining similar control of the same industry, until a more powerful force intervened and Villar was dubbed “Villarroyo” — an alleged Trojan horse for then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Some critics have suggested that Duterte could be PNoy’s equivalent of GMA’s Villarroyo–and should be brought down.
A friendly Catholic charismatic suggests that all you have to do is listen to Duterte and PNoy talk about the Church and the Pope, to see that they are, in fact, kindred spirits, and that Duterte could in fact be his Trojan horse, if nothing happens to Mar Roxas. Where PNoy merely “welcomed” Pope Francis in Malacanang last January with a rude and antagonistic message, Duterte has actually cursed him for allegedly causing so much traffic during that visit.
Stronger than the Church, more powerful than Satan?
Where PNoy merely tried to show he is stronger than the Catholic Church by ramming down the nation’s throat the highly destructive Reproductive Health law against the opposition of the Church, and stronger than the Iglesia ni Cristo which supported him in 2010 but whose support he has sought to minimize afterward, Duterte has said, “I will destroy the Church and the present status of so many priests and what they are doing.”
It is pure arrogance and hubris.
“Thou art Peter,” the Lord said, “and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevailed against it” (Mt 16:18). Many despots, infinitely more powerful and far crazier than the two Aquilino Pimentels’ “Santo Rodrigo,” have tried to destroy the Church and failed. The Lord gave the devil himself a full century, as we learn from Pope Leo XIII, to destroy the Church and rule the world, but he failed.
One has to be galaxies bigger than Satan to think of succeeding where the father of all lies has failed. It takes more than a touch of madness to utter his words, but it takes an entire solar system of madness for an individual, or a group of individuals, or a significant part of the nation, or the nation itself to think that a man who says those things could become, or should become, a benighted people’s president even for a quarter of a minute.