I am flying today to Salt Lake City, Utah to address the ninth World Congress of Families this week. I will be one of many international plenary speakers. From there, I will be traveling to Iowa for personal and family reasons, and finally to Washington, D.C. for an important engagement. This should give Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares and her political camp some respite from nagging questions raised in this space about her unconstitutional presidential run, although not necessarily from any action by the Commission on Elections on my disqualification suit against her, and the two other petitions for the cancellation of her certificate of candidacy, filed by lawyer Estrella Elamparo and political science professor Antonio Contreras.
I am told the Comelec could act on these petitions in the next few days. For this reason, I have authorized my lawyer Manuelito Luna to represent me in my absence.
But I am afraid the Llamanzares issue may have been overshadowed by something more urgent.
A front-page commentary in The Sunday Times yesterday, authored by former Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, may have shifted public attention and discussion from what promises to be a meaningless and completely manipulated presidential election to the need of a meaningful peaceful revolution.
The Gonzales paper (Revolution Now?) foresees the inevitable failure of the forthcoming elections, and the outbreak of popular passions as a consequence. At which point, there would be need to prevent vested interests from taking over and for some responsible group to direct mass action for the required authentic change.
This is a role that the National Transformation Council has defined for itself since it first revealed itself at its first general assembly which issued the Lipa Declaration on Aug. 27, 2014. This was restated in the Gonzales paper.
In the face of the utter destruction of all our political and social institutions, and the unmitigated collapse of the constitutional order, as evidenced in part by Mrs. Llamanzares’s persistence as a so-called “popular personality” to run for president, despite her constitutional ineligibility, we need to discard not just the outgoing regime but above all the failed political system.
We therefore need a non-partisan political mechanism to provide the transition from the failed system to the new one. The NTC believes a caretaker government, made up of carefully selected individuals with unblemished public records, from the various strategic sectors, and acting under the unerring watch and guidance of the nation’s moral and spiritual leaders, while representing a cross-section of the interests of the Filipino people, could provide this transitory mechanism.
One year ago, this seemed to be a Utopian idea. But as the political system continues to deteriorate while we enter the active presidential campaign season, the premises and proposals advanced by the NTC tend to gain greater validity and support from the ground. In fact, it now appears that the earlier pronouncements by erstwhile presidential aspirant Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, that he wanted to run for president because he wanted to declare a “revolutionary government,” appears to have been inspired by the NTC analysis and formulation.
Qualified sources have revealed that the “brains” behind Duterte’s “pronouncements” have tried to convince former President Fidel V. Ramos, his trusted political-military adviser, retired Brig. Gen. Jose Almonte, and several other retired generals to simply adopt the NTC idea as their own, by supporting Duterte’s proposed bid to create a “revolutionary government,” whether he wins the presidency or not. Ramos and his friends, however, refused to warm up sufficiently to the idea, the sources said, thereby prompting Duterte to vacillate and ultimately abandon the idea of running for president. He has decided to run for reelection as Mayor of Davao instead, to the obvious chagrin and consternation of his daughter Sarah, who had her head shaved to compel her father to run for president, and leave the Davao mayoralty to herself.
Some of Duterte’s supporters continue to hope that he would still reconsider and run, by substituting for his party’s secretary general who has filed for president, before the deadline for such substitutions, on Dec. 10. This appears to be the same situation in former president and now Manila Mayor Erap Estrada’s camp, which reportedly continues to hope that Erap, who is running for reelection as mayor, would still run for president by substituting for someone who was reported to have filed his COC as his party’s candidate.
But the Comelec may have taken a few steps ahead by declaring 125 of the 130 presidential filers as “nuisance candidates.” Presumably, this number includes the candidates meant to be replaced by Duterte and Erap.
If the government wants to avoid a revolution, it will have to exert every effort to ensure the holding of a clean, honest, transparent and credible election. So far there is no evidence of that. To the contrary, everything is being done to rig it. Various efforts to break Smartmatic’s stranglehold on the electronic voting system have failed.
A respected and technically competent Filipino group had come up with a highly transparent and inexpensive indigenous system to replace Smartmatic’s Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) or Optical Mark Readers (OMRs), but was given the runaround and finally excluded.
A German biometrics firm, Dermalog, was reported to have made an offer to refurbish the 80,000 PCOS units at minimal cost, in order to save the Comelec billions of pesos and prevent it from using the same Smartmatic voting machines that were divested of all safety and security features to produce the flawed election results in 2010 and 2013. Comelec chairman Andres Bautista was reported to have met with the group twice, but could not decide on his own what to do with the offer. In the end, he reportedly asked Dermalog to sit down and negotiate a possible arrangement with Smartmatic.
This tends to confirm all speculation that after President B. S. Aquino 3rd met in private with Smartmatic international chairman Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Smartmatic’s stranglehold on the 2016 automated election was completed. It succeeded in shutting out all other interested parties from supplying transparent technology in the elections. This can only add more reasons for the possibility of electoral failure, and the consequent unrest. The masses will be frustrated.
Revolution then could emerge as the only real option in the hands of the electorate. This is where, in Gonzales’s analysis, the NTC must rise to the challenge. It must seize the moment.
Since August of last year, the NTC has gone around the country, holding consultations through various multi-sectoral assemblies. Especially in Mindanao, various groups have tried to relate to the NTC by organizing their own regional transformation councils. These provide part of the active and expanding constituency of the NTC. In its last meeting in Cebu, where it was first conceived four years ago, the NTC formalized its Steering Committee to enable it to respond promptly and adequately to fast-moving developments. That committee will be making relevant and timely pronouncements from here on.
One way of engaging the NTC in the present campaign is to involve it in the formulation of the issues to be publicly debated by the presidential candidates, and in the presidential debates themselves. We need to raise the quality of the debates by discussing transcendental issues related to the future of our society as a human society, not simply as a malfunctioning political unit.
Although the NTC has no candidate in the 2016 elections, as the first advocate of system change, it would be useful to allow it to contribute to such a debate.
Gonzales, who is a founding NTC member, could be invited to such a debate, not for the purpose of winning any votes, since he is not a candidate, but simply to help widen the range of discussion and the nation’s perspectives. Alternatively, also as a founding NTC member, I would not mind taking part in such a debate, especially if there is no attempt to manipulate the debates by manufacturing allegedly favorable and unfavorable audience response to the debaters, as happened in the 2010 senatorial debates. If the NTC is able to contribute better ideas to the discussion, then the public should be free to discard as an option, and support a peaceful non-electoral transition instead.
There is no shortage of debatable issues. The most obvious will most certainly be debated. The MRT is a scandal, the traffic is a mess, corruption is now the system, government is present where it is not needed, but absent where it is. The candidates will most likely be saying the same things, without truly understanding the real issues, and without actually meaning what they profess. The debates should go beyond this. From the insights that would emerge from the exchanges, the people should gain a much better and bigger view of themselves, of their potentials and possibilities.
They should not just let their national politicians get away with their earthworm’s view of the world; they should challenge them to address basic questions about our human existence. Will we have war or peace with China? Will Isis, Syria or Ukraine trigger an unsurvivable war among the global powers? Will we still be able to pursue our claim to Sabah? Will the Islamic caliphate be able to reestablish itself as far as Mindanao through an autonomous political entity for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front?
These certainly are important questions, which those seeking to lead the nation should individually and collectively address. But even more important than these are those related to the ultimate destiny of man, of the natural family, and of marriage. They now lie at the core of international advocacy of the UN and First World nations. They form the major thrust of foreign policy of the leading world power, the US. The presidential debates must not shy away from these.
These are some of the questions the three-week Synod of Bishops on the Family which ended at the Vatican yesterday tried to address, and these are some of the questions the 9th World Congress of Families will try to address this week at Salt Lake. At least 3,000 delegates from various parts of the world will be there to examine these issues. With a strong homosexual lobby bent on frustrating any advance in our quest for human dignity, we need all the enlightenment from above, and the genuine solidarity and support from the ground. Please do not withhold your prayers.