#Eleksyon2016: On honest mistakes


It seems I wasn’t the only one surprised that the Supreme Court voted in favor of Grace Poe and her petition that she be allowed to run for president in May. Of course she’s been acting like she was going to win that case anyway, campaigning as she has, making grand proclamations as she has. Fighting spirit we like to say; ala FPJ as her PR machinery and spin doctors would say.

And now getting that vote (literally!) of confidence from the Supreme Court itself, well, they can now paint her the hero who didn’t give up, who faced her enemies, just like her father, fictional as his movie roles were.

Look at her! She is now fit to be President.

But is she?

On that honest mistake
I just didn’t buy that “honest mistake” that Poe was selling. She had written on her Certificate of Candidacy for Senator that by May 2013, she would have lived in the Philippines for six years and six months. We are now being told that she had counted residency from March 2006 up to September 2012.

And then when she filled up her COC for President, she wrote that she had been residing in the Philippines for 10 years and 11 months, counting from May 2005.

We have been made to believe that an official document such as one’s COC – the one that made Poe senator the past three years – is important enough to hold the basic truths about a candidate: her address, her name, her year of birth, her signature. And, in the case of Poe, the number of years she has lived in the Philippines.

It’s not even about her loyalty between two flags at this point. It’s only about a candidate who put wrong information on an official government document, the same one that allowed her to become Senator of the country.

It’s about the COC saying in its instructions that “This certificate shall be sworn before a notarized public or any official authorized to administer the oath.” <emphasis from original document>

This means that what Poe wrote on that document is presumed as true. The excuse of an “honest mistake” is just not acceptable because you did not only give false data here, you also swore to this false data’s truth.

The COC was a legal binding official serious document. That Poe made such a huge mistake on it is uncanny. That nine out of 15 Supreme Court Justices actually decided to believe Poe’s excuse, absolutely disconcerting.

That now she can say, Oh wait, I made an honest mistake on that! Just does not bode well for her leadership. Or for this election.

The question of identity
Because this is a matter of trust, isn’t it? And, oh, how big we are on trusting our candidates, aren’t we?

But also it’s a matter of how Poe has been selling herself, as the one who has the most integrity, as the one who is most honest, as the one who has love for nation the way her father had, the way her mother has.

And so this becomes larger than the COC. It is also about the fact that this is someone who had already renounced her Filipino citizenship, who had turned her back on nation – on paper! – and had said that she would only defend the US and no other country. This is the same woman who decided to use her US passport – even when she already had a Filipino one – because it was “more convenient.”

This is the same woman who, if we are to believe The Daily Tribune’s Ninez Cacho-Olivarez, has been caught using two different social security numbers in the US – one a dead man’s, the other her real number. Her camp has said that this was yet another honest mistake – not on Poe’s part, but on the part of the Tribune: what the paper has read as a dead man’s SSN, was actually Poe’s student ID number.

Of course one wonders how this could happen in a country like the US, that has very strict laws about SSN IDs, and explains how specific those SSN numbers are, how each of the three sets of numbers hold meaning.

And then there is just this: what does Poe have to show for the three years she has spent in the Senate? Go beyond the instances in which she has gotten media mileage, i.e., during MRT and Mamasapano hearings, and look at what she has actually done the past three years. What do we see, really?

This is a woman who held the Mamasapano Report up with pride, yet who decided to just let the report die a natural death, not pushing for any action on it at all.

What was that?

Say it with me: an honest mistake.

Famous lines
In real life, you do not get away with false data in official documents by saying that you made an honest mistake. Certainly it won’t work for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), it won’t work for banks, it won’t work for many places that presume the personal data you put your signature on is true.

In fact, it does not even work for real life, beyond documents. You hit another car on the road? Honest mistake, you say, as you scratch your head. You unthinkingly decide to keep the wallet that you found in the cab, instead of returning to owner? Honest mistake, mamser. You arrive an hour late for a meeting? You thought it was at this hour … honest mistake.

Now that Poe has proven that the “honest mistake” excuse can and does work, even for documents that are of utmost importance such as one’s COC; now that the SC has declared “honest mistakes” to be acceptable under the law, we can all milk this all its worth.

If you’re a teacher, expect students to start saying: but it was an honest mistake, ma’am! when they submit requirements that don’t follow the required format and conventions. They can plagiarize whole paragraphs off the Internet and once caught, say: honest mistake lang po, ma’am!

If I were Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, every time someone raises the issues of sexual harassment, or the case of acts of lasciviousness against him, or his human rights violations, I would say: those were all honest mistakes! If I were Mar Roxas, every time his inefficiency and unkindness in Tacloban and Samar after Typhoon Haiyan is mentioned; every time someone says that it is his fault that the airports are a mess, and that the MRT is inefficient and dangerous, I would say: those are all honest mistakes! If I were Vice President Jejomar Binay, whenever those charges of graft and corruption are raised, I would reply: those were honest mistakes!

And if Poe wins, imagine how far she’ll get with her honest mistakes. And how much fun everyone will have using “honest mistake” as an excuse for everything. Legal loggers killing us all by denuding our forests? It was an honest mistake, ma’am! Cabinet officials failing to deliver on their promised outcomes? Honest mistakes, ma’am! The Lumad being displaced and killed by military and paramilitary forces: honest mistakes po!

And of course, Poe can still use this line! After all, this is a woman who has been able to sustain a candidacy by using her father’s fictional movie lines. At least “honest mistake” was all original.


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  1. She claims to continue his fathers legacy but actually its not her foster parent fpj but fmarcos coz his blood runs in her veins!

  2. opinionated ako on

    Grace Poe got into Philippine politics and she is fully aware that politics is evil and dirty. All that lines used such as,honest mistakes, integrity, and all that baloney to describe herself did not exist at all. She even claimed to be an OFW at one time and come to find out that she never worked in the U.S. when her Social Security issue was in questioned. All her campaigned promises, so far, cannot be achieved politically, like abstracts that do not have concrete plans such as the steps or sequences that must be done to achieve these goals.

    In reality, she has blinded the public and uses his adoptive father, the late FPJ to boost her popularity. She knows, deep down, that literacy rate in the Philippines is not that high as the neighboring countries in Asia, and voters can be easily swayed by popularity, instead of ability. She is a great manipulator as well, and her political backers have tons of money to spend or unlimited amount of money, which can be easily recovered once she occupies the position of Presidency, at the expense of poor Filipino people, I might add.

    Personal value, such as honesty, integrity, love to poor and disadvantaged Filipino people, are the fibers on the bones that these politicians do not have. However, protecting their friends in politics from getting in troubles would be on top of their agenda, like nagbabayad lang ng utang na loob. A good example of this would be, when PNoy steps down, he may be facing lawsuits in relation to PDAF. If he happens to get convicted, Grace Poe will be to the rescue by giving him a Presidential Pardon.

    This is the cycle of Philippine politics in the last half-century, and this is the reason why rampant political corruptions and importations or manufacturing illegal drugs are getting out of control. One might wonder, how can prisoners, convicted to serve life sentences and put behind the prison walls are enjoying the luxuries in life, and cooking SHABU at the same time. This means that these big time prisoners are being protected from politicians that they once supported. It does not require to have a degree in rocket science to come up with this type of conclusions.

  3. I hope that after her term should she win the presidency ( God forbid!) she will not use that lame excuse that she honestly mistaken her ( limited) preparedness and experience as enough for her to take on the gargantuan responsibility of leading this nation.

    I have been a natural born citizen of this country for nearly 62 years now and I m proud to say that never once did I gave up on this country.

    At the height of martial law, an elder sister left to seek her destiny in the USA. and although she has came back a number of times after that, she never sought dual citizenship even she is qualified opting to stay and build her family in the States where she is married to an American former Air Force man. Having decided on that, except for the pre-EDSA revolution days, she has since refused to have something to do with Philippine politics.

    An elder brother also migrated with his family to the USA at the height of the Aquino assassination crisis in the mid 80s and has stayed there permanently although he also comes to visit from time to time if his work as airline personnel gives him the opportunity or allows it. He has also not opted for dual citizenship but being a former student activist in the early 70s, he has remained keen on what has been going on politically in the country since post EDSA although he prefers to defer to the wisdom of those left behind here.

    I myself have had the opportunity to leave for greener pasture abroad but I did not as I have never given up on this country.

    Therefore, I am highly skeptic of one as Grace Poe who spent most of her life in the bliss of the USA, (perhaps unmindful of what had been going on here especially in the tumultuous martial law years, the later Marcos era, the immediate post EDSA years) and who came back only in the more favorable times in the last decade and decided to re-acquire her supposed Filipino citizenship when she was appointed to a government post. How patriotically convenient!

    And now with less than ten years as a resident and even less years in government service, she is saying that she more Filipino than most of us and that she knows how to run this country better than the natural born citizens since Aguinaldo?

    Spare me!

  4. It seems I wasn’t the only one surprised that the Supreme Court voted in favor of Grace Poe and her petition

    What i don’t understand is why anyone is surprised.

    Here is a simple question to ask yourself to figure out what will be the outcome of any government issue.

    Since the entire government, all the agencies and courts are being controlled by the dynasty families what will be the outcome ?

    • Actually I was not surprise at all. In fact I was the only one saying that Poe will endure her dq cases. My thought there was 5 pro Noynoy judges plus 3 swayables. Please consider the millions of pesos that Danding and San miguel dangled for the supreme court judges.

  5. If ever she wins, then it will be the most honest mistake in the history.

    I however doubt, she may be leading the surveys but the Filipino people are talented and knows there are other candidates more worthy than her and can change the Philippines for the better. Why would I select a candidate who if ever wins, will only rely on people she will place around her? Who will be these people who will control her and the government?

  6. Ms Katrina,

    It is clear that you do not approve of Ms. Poe, and you could find all the fault and imperfections she has, and dig whatever dirt you can of her past, and write whatever else that you can think of that’s wrong with her. You are just doing your job – as a columnist. I understand that It is election period after all. I also understand that politics here in this country of ours is dirty. correction, one of the dirtiest in the world. Here, where media, is biased (paid?). Here, where criminal and corrupt politicians roam free, and ex politicians who did criminal acts but were not caught are out enjoying their democratic freedom and some are maybe now even in the print media shamelessly working as columnists, editors, “journalists”. Here where lady justice is supposed to be fair – if you have the money and are connected to the right criminal politician. There are so many things wrong in this picture, not just one wanna be president of this country. She just wants to lead and be president . Really now, why would one want to lead a country like this? The population is exploding, there’s no job to be had, our universities produce so much number of college graduates every year but one wonders if they all get to find jobs, there is homelessness and urban migration, there is crime, there is traffic, there is labor unrest, we have our separatist Muslim brothers in Mindanao always looking for excuses to shoot and bomb our military brothers, China is bullying its way onto our fishing grounds, our military, navy and air force is under-equipped, underfunded and underpaid, we import rice when we have the IRRI here in our backyard, we export our teachers and engineers, nurses and doctors, our farmers do not own their lands, our carpenters do not own their houses, etc, etc. So if she wants to sincerely lead our country to greatness, she has got to be some kind of crazy don’t you think? I can’t imagine the stress and the headache associated with this job 24/7! I’d say good luck to her instead! Just my 2 cents anyway.


    • If she was in it to help the country and the people then yea it’s a near impossible task but if the goal is to enrich your family and continue to funnel the wealth of the country the to the dynasty families and businesses then might as well slap on a sign “Family owned business” on the government buildings.

    • It’s not about being pro or con. It is about our constitution. Somebody has to rewrite the constitution to accomodate her.

  7. Romy torralba on

    I hope the 9 SC justices won’t say in chorus that “our decision was an honest mistake” when the time of reckoning comes.