I have been traveling at an increased pace of late—outside the country, to engage human life and family issues, and inside the country, to discuss regime and systems change. From September to November, I was in Moscow, Salt Lake City, and the Vatican in connection with the first. From August up to last week, I was in Lipa, Cebu, Butuan, Angeles, and Davao in connection with the second.
On these foreign trips, I unavoidably bumped into Filipinos. Invariably, the conversation turned to politics, specifically to President B. S. Aquino 3rd and the Senate. Those who had been following the Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program or pork barrel scandal generally lamented what happened to PNoy’s widely hyped “daang matuwid,” and to the once-noble institution called the Senate.
For them, both are irretrievably lost. Both have nothing more to say to the nation, and people should stop referring to either as a possible source of ideas about the next president or even vice president.
At home, most people I spoke to showed distinct anger at the Mt. Everest of corruption that had engulfed the supposedly incorrupt Aquino regime. But although they wanted to see the senators and congressmen and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and his accomplices eaten alive by ants for their role in the pork barrel rip off, they seemed unprepared to see Aquino punished for it.
Not because they could not believe Aquino could be as guilty as Abad, but because they could not imagine having made such a terrible mistake in buying his sales pitch about his “daang matuwid.” But by explaining to them, in slow motion, how Aquino was “machine-elected” as president, and what crimes he has committed against the Constitution, I may have succeeded in showing why it is not unreasonable to ask Aquino to step down.
The first question to consider is this: was he legally and legitimately elected? Against all previous affirmative answers to this question, I had to take a contrary position. He was not, and here’s why. In 2010, the election was not conducted by the Commission on Elections, which alone has the constitutional mandate to conduct elections. Instead, it was conducted by Smartmatic, the Venezuelan private company, which had no constitutional authority to conduct elections. Therefore, the election was void, on its face.
What about Aquino’s over 14 million votes? They were, at best, questionable. They were the result of a rigged process, and there was no way they could be legally and independently verified. Why rigged? Because Smartmatic used the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machine, after it had been divested of all its safety features and accuracy mechanisms, in violation of law.
What were these features? The voter’s verification mechanism, the ultra violet scan, the digital signature, the source code review, the certification by an independent authority that the system was in perfect working condition prior to its use. These features were all built into the machine, as required by law. But the Comelec removed them unilterally, without anyone being prosecuted for it. They were even rewarded with high-paying sinecures after leaving the Comelec.
Now, without the ultra violet scan, no one could say whether the ballot paper used was authorized or not. Without the voter’s verification mechanism, the voter had no way of knowing whether the machine had read his vote right. Without the required digital signatures on the votes being transmitted from the machine, no one could say accurately from which precinct the votes were coming from. Without a source code review, the candidates and the political parties had no way of knowing whether the machine would be performing according to the instructions encoded in it. And without the independent certification, everyone would be at the mercy of Smartmatic.
The PCOS machine was programmed to produce winners and losers. And PNoy was the biggest winner of them all. So big, in fact, that the American ambassador Harry Thomas recognized him as the president-elect even before the Congress could complete the official count. He became the gift of the computer age to the largely computer-illiterate electorate. But no one could really verify his actual votes, or anybody else’s, for that matter.
That was but the first offense. As president, Aquino has committed crimes none of his predecessors ever did before. Using the PDAF and the DAP, he paid off the members of Congress to force the enactment of the anti-Catholic Reproductive Health Law and to impeach and remove Chief Justice Renato Corona from the Supreme Court. One hundred eighty-eight congressmen signed the Articles of Impeachment against Corona without reading the document, and 19 out of the 23 senator-judges at the Senate impeachment court received P50 million to P100 million each after voting to convict the Chief Justice.
The payoff was first revealed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in a privilege speech. And it was quickly confirmed by Abad, who said the money was taken from the DAP. It was the first time the nation had heard of the DAP. Since then, it has heard of very little else. In the long history of our corrupt presidential politics, this was unprecedented. It was not easy to believe that this was coming from a president who proudly boasted of his “incorrupt” government.
By this act, Aquino became the chief and unchallenged corruptor of Congress. Among those who read Holy Scripture, this was worse than ripping off the state treasury for himself. For as Lk 17:1-2 puts it, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”
With this crime, Aquino became impeachable for culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust. But because he had committed his crime in complicity and partnership with the congressmen who had the exclusive power to impeach, and the senators who had the sole power to try and convict an impeached president, he has remained unimpeached.
And not only unimpeached. But, above all, in actual control of Congress, in violation of the separation of powers and the doctrine of checks and balances. Several impeachment complaints were eventually filed against Aquino after the Supreme Court struck down the PDAF and the DAP as unconstitutional. But \these were promptly thrown out by the House committee on justice for being insufficient in substance. Thus, Aquino’s rebellion against the Constitution and the State continues.
Listening to all this in slow motion, many Aquino sympathizers were compelled to concede that he may have, indeed, failed to fulfill his promise to the electorate. But they dared not fault him for any dark motives. Therefore, the only option they could see is for him to stay on until 2016, and for a new president to be “elected” under the same conditions that prevailed in 2010 and 2013, using the same PCOS machine, but wishing for altogether different results.
This totally contradicts the regime and systems change, which the National Transformation Council has proposed, and which a growing number of Filipinos have clearly accepted as the only real solution to our endless crisis. Yet this is being mainstreamed by the conscript media and the other organs of official propaganda as the only way out.
Unless we have decided to be morally blind, we have to reject this. We have to break new ground. And we need new leaders and a new political class who will take the nation on this new path, instead of simply repeating its most egregious political mistakes, and calling it “experience.”