As May 9 draws near, we find ourselves more and more nervous about the viability of the elections. What we are hearing officially from the Commission on Elections, its Venezuelan partner Smartmatic and the various presidential players gives us very little reason to hope that we are going to have a clean, honest, transparent and orderly national election. Whether our “comatose democracy” will survive or be finally killed and buried in this election is a question I have asked in a previous column; to that, I have not found an easy answer. So many are even beginning to ask whether or not there is a real need for this election.
Reports from the field indicate that no one in particular is working to prevent the savaging of the 2016 automated election. There was unmitigated wholesale cheating in 2010 and 2013, and people expect far more cheating this time. But none of the major players appear interested in preventing or stopping it; to the contrary, they all appear eager to do their own cheating, to cancel the work of the central cheating system, which rigged the two last elections.
Ready to cheat
One Muslim leader reports one presidential candidate telling his audience in Maguindanao that he’s ready to cheat rather than just be cheated. Another presidential candidate is reported to be quite advanced in his “Plan B,” which involves a plan to claim “victory” as soon as the voting is over, whether or not the official results support his claim. This “Plan B” appears to be the more important game plan of this particular player, and could have the most serious impact on the overall situation on the ground.
What we are seeing today are early signs of chaos that could either prevent peaceful and orderly elections from being held as scheduled, or produce enough physical disturbance after the voting to prevent the proclamation of a President-elect, or create the necessary environment for certain extra-legal forces to seize the vital organs of government. Nothing untoward could be discounted.
Unhappily, none of this appears to have entered the consciousness of the electorate. The voters are so focused on trying to choose the least unworthy of the presidential candidates that they have no time to consider whether their choice, or the electoral process itself, represents a chance for change. To many voters, the only thing that matters is that they must have a candidate even if they find no one worthy of their choice.
Thus, wherever I have gone, people who say they follow my column, my weekly TV show on Destiny Cable and my modest media exposure for pointing out that the nine Supreme Court justices have violated the rule of law and committed a grave abuse of discretion in declaring Grace Poe Llamanzares, a former American citizen of no known biological parentage and with an American husband and children to boot, a qualified presidential candidate, have asked me to tell them my choice for President so they could vote for him or her as well.
It wasn’t the wisest thing to do, but I found the gesture quite moving. As an independent public analyst and commentator, I will have to stop writing this column the minute I declare my presidential choice and begin rooting for him or her. There is a clear distinction between a public commentator and a party campaigner, and I will have no one accuse me of blearing that distinction. So I have kept my personal choice to myself, unless and until it becomes necessary for me to make a public declaration.
To the most persistent guys (normally women), though, I would normally answer with levity, “Marcos is still my candidate.” To which they would object, “But Bongbong is running for Vice President only!” “I know, Bongbong is gunning for Vice President only,” I’d say, “but Marcos, the old man, is still my President. He’s the best President we’ve ever had, despite Aquino’s renewed attacks against him.” They would finally get the joke, and leave me in peace.
But this election is not merely a matter of choosing a presidential candidate. It is, above all, making sure that a legitimate and credible democratic process is held, and that such a process results in a change of the status quo in favor of our degraded democratic institutions, and our neglected and exploited masses. Otherwise, we must find an alternative to this ineffectual electoral process. But not even our perennial do-gooders seem to understand this.
At daily mass, the Church prays that voters examine the qualities and qualifications of the candidates and choose only the most deserving. But this shows no understanding of the real problem. The real problem is not that the voters are ignorant or gullible, and can be bought or bamboozled by demagogues and smooth operators. It is rather that the paid propaganda surveys, the rigged vote counting machine, parallel transmission system and servers have taken over, and we do not seem to care about its real consequences.
At least 135 individuals initially filed their certificates of candidacy for President. The first 130 were summarily disqualified for being “nuisance candidates” – they have no money to burn, nor any visible political organization, even though they are all natural-born citizens, registered voters, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age, and residents of the country for at least 10 years immediately preceding the May 9 election – the only requirements under the Constitution.
Of the remaining five, four are unquestionably qualified. The eligibility of UNA’s Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, LP’s Mar Roxas, PDP’s Rodrigo Duterte, and PRP’s Miriam Defensor-Santiago has never been questioned. Only the Independent Grace Poe Llamanzares, a former American citizen of no known biological parentage, and with an American husband and children to boot, has been disqualified and her COC cancelled by the Comelec, for not being a natural-born citizen and a 10-year resident of the Philippines.
But nine of the 15 members of the Supreme Court overruled the Constitution, the law and jurisprudence to declare her suspiciously as a “qualified” candidate. She is the only true “nuisance candidate,” says a distinguished senior SC Associate Justice.
All are out on the campaign trail, but the TV ads and paid propaganda surveys have become their main avenues of campaigning. The candidates have already spent billions of pesos on TV ads and surveys, and the public and the politicians have fallen prey to the propaganda fraudsters. The fraudsters are making a killing by releasing one survey after another, after every few days, without providing the public with any information about their polling. Some radio and TV stations have joined the rip-off by doing so-called “phone surveys,” and selling the unverified and unverifiable results to the highest suckers.
One radio station has just announced its own survey of voters’ perception of the “servant leadership” qualities of candidates, putting Grace Poe Llamanzares, the only constitutionally questionable candidate who has successively lied about her personal circumstances under oath, as the topnotcher. Even supposedly sophisticated intellectuals talk of the candidates’ standing in the surveys, instead of their inherent capabilities, when discussing their fitness for the job.
Not one polling agency has tried finding out how many agree with the nine SC justices that the Constitution, the law and the whole of jurisprudence are wrong, and that they are all correct in the case of Mrs. Llamanzares. Not one polling agency has tried to find out how many people believe the pollsters that have been feeding the public with all these surveys.
The real danger
And yet because the electoral process has been so degraded, one can assume that these fraudulent survey results will ultimately guide the work of the vote counting machine, the transmission system, and the final server to come out with the pre-arranged results. As all the major players would be playing the same game, nobody would be disposed to accept any result that did not favor their own. The danger increases if and when one party declares that he has won the election even before the Congress, acting as the lone presidential canvassing tribunal, is able to perform its duty, and armed and unarmed supporters are mobilized to enforce that declaration.
Ordinarily, this should be dismissed as an “unthinkable situation.” In fact, no party that participates in an election should be suspected of having the capability or the motivation to consider this at all. But what if one of the major players has, from the very beginning, considered the election as the potential staging point of an armed revolution? Has not President B.S. Aquino 3rd himself encouraged this kind of thinking when he recently announced boldly, without thought of offending the Constitution and the law and the sovereign will of the people themselves, that he would lead a “people power” revolt should Bongbong Marcos be elected as Vice President?
If PNoy believes he can impose his will, as an outgoing President, on the sovereign Filipino electorate, why can’t anyone running for President and losing in the May 9 count after spending billions of pesos on the rigged voting system, decide to impose his own will on the same electorate? It is certainly wrong and venal to do so, but it seems wholly consistent with all the wrong and venal things, which the men and women in power in our misbegotten state have done to rewrite the truth and everything else that stands in the way of the elite.
In the next few days, a political party represented by some brave guardians of the state intends to file a motion before the Supreme Court calling for the cancellation of the May 9 elections for reasons that should be interesting to read. This should allow us to ponder more deeply whether or not we really need this election now, or whether we should first fix the system, as the National Transformation Council has long proposed, before conducting elections under normal circumstances.