By this weekend, we should know officially all those who would be running for President and Vice President in the May 2016 elections. This compels us to raise some basic questions to the voters and the candidates.
Most, if not all of them, are self-nominated. We have no political primary or party conventions as they have in the United States, simply because we have no real political parties. Our political parties exist only nominally, as flags of convenience during and after elections, but never as the serious political mechanisms they are meant to be in mature democracies.
Therefore, we have no systematic way of screening candidates.
The propaganda surveys, paid for by and fudged in favor of moneyed politicians, and promoted by the complicit press, provide the elimination process. The predatory elite and their confederates sit on top of this mischief, and the ignorant and gullible public mechanically accepts it.
The campaign is waged by means of extravagant over-the-top TV ads, which bombard the voters with specious “truths” about each candidate. They never get to know the real truth about the persons seeking their votes; they succumb to the candidates’ hype without ever getting to know their real merits or defects.
The biggest and final swindle happens when the Venezuelan marketing firm Smartmatic enters the picture and controls the constitutionally mandated exclusive privilege of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct elections, using its Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines (now renamed Optical Mark Readers or OMRs) after they have been divested illegally of all safety and security features and accuracy mechanisms. I have named this the “hocus PCOS” and the name has stuck.
This happened in 2010, which resulted in the doubtful victory of President B. S. Aquino 3rd over his more qualified presidential rivals. It was repeated in 2013, when Aquino’s senatorial candidates led all the rest by an across-the-board margin of 60-30-10 (60 percent for Aquino’s Team Patay, 30 percent for the opposition UNA and 10 percent for the “independents”) in every precinct across the country, even in opposition bailiwicks where nobody knew the administration bets. The current signals emanating from the Comelec tell us it is going to happen again.
The latest spin from Smartmatic, repeated as a banner headline by The Philippine Star, one of the crony newspapers, is that it would take 20 years to hack the OMRs from the Venezuelan firm. (Smartmatic and the Comelec have started using OMR instead of PCOS in an effort to mislead the public into believing we’ve done away with the cheating machines. But there’s been no change.)
To this, Arnold Villasanta, the Filipino engineer who developed TAPAT, the completely transparent and inexpensive alternative Filipino voting system, which the Comelec, however, chose to disregard after witnessing its successful demonstration, said the OMRs could be hacked in 20 seconds from inside (by Smartmatic), which is where the real threat is coming from.
This position is shared by many specialists from Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tandem) and Automated Election System Watch, led by Toti Casino of the Philippine Computer Society and Nelson Celis, who are both involved in developing an alternative voting system for the 2016 elections.
Despite the various legal and technical infirmities in Smartmatic’s bid to supply 99,977 OMRs to the Comelec, the latter has decided to ignore all those infirmities and give the Venezuelan firm the award. This is a big mystery to many, notably the growing number of concerned citizens demanding clean and honest elections in 2016.
The most plausible explanation for it is that Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista is under instruction to favor Smartmatic, after Aquino’s private meeting last June with Smartmatic international chairman Mark Malloch Brown, the political operator associated with the billionaire power player, George Soros who has been involved in destabilizing certain “unwanted” governments.
In 1986, Malloch Brown, as head of the Sawyer Miller Group in the US, worked for the late Corazon C. Aquino before and after the EDSA revolt. He was believed to have been the principal ghost-writer of Cory’s highly applauded September 18,1986 speech before the US Congress. He later rose to become deputy secretary general of the UN and member of the British House of Lords before he was hired by Smartmatic– precisely, some sources claim, to save the Philippine account.
Given the administration’s determined effort to steal the next elections, we have to ask the voters and all those running for President some critical questions right now. We could ask those running for Vice President and for senator in another column later.
I — TO THE VOTERS:
The state has failed, or is failing. Contrary to all official claims, nothing under Aquino seems to work anymore — nothing for which the government is supposed to be responsible. The infrastructure that supports basic services and daily living is virtually nil. The moral and legal structure that should help the citizens commune with each other better has been leveled to the ground. Human dignity, decency and all human, social and political institutions are under attack.
The government has become the exact opposite of what it is supposed to be. Corruption has become the system in the hands of those who have vowed to abolish it. These “graft busters” now wage war on petty criminals but set no limits on their own pillage and plunder. Some international studies say the country has become one of the worst places in the world to live and die in.
So we ask the voters these questions:
1. Assuming honest elections are still possible, do you honestly believe the government wants us to have clean and honest elections? Will it exert the necessary effort to bring that about?
2. Assuming they are honest, do you think elections alone can change anything in our society, or at least in the government? If no, what do you think should be done? And what should be your role in it?
3. Assuming the elections are rigged, will you accept the results? If no, what will you do, and what do you think should be done? Will you call upon the military to get involved and defend the integrity of our political institutions?
4. Among the “presidentiables,” have you heard or seen anything that leads you to believe things will change if anyone of them is elected?
5. Do you think anyone of them wants to do something concrete and lasting for the nation, or do you feel they simply want to become President for their own reasons?
6. Do you think it is useful to ask the voters these questions?
II – TO THOSE WHO WANT TO BECOME PRESIDENT:
1. The nation’s problems defy easy solution. Some people say you’ve got to be a little mad to want to become President, especially at a time like this. What makes you want to go after this job? What makes you feel more qualified than anybody else? Is there anything concrete you would like to do and believe you can do for the country? Or is this simply an ego trip?
2. What exactly is your public record? Have you ever done anything that others thought could not be done, stood alone in any public controversy, just because you believed it was right and it needed your courage and conviction?
3. Have you ever been touched by scandal, and how did you deal with it? Scripture tells us that he who is faithful in little things will be faithful in bigger things: Does this describe you or not?
4. The presidency demands not only hard work but above all self-sacrifice. What have you given up, if any, and what are you prepared to give up to serve the common good?
5. What in your view is the biggest and most urgent problem facing the country? How do you propose to address it?
6. Have you ever sworn any oaths in your life? How did you live up to them? As a married man or woman, who has sworn to God to be ever faithful to your marriage, can you offer your married life as a warrant of your ability to be absolutely faithful to the oath you’ll swear as President? Is your private life an open book, or are there skeletons in your closet?
7. The Constitution prohibits political dynasties. Since you will swear to preserve and defend the Constitution, will you go out of your way to ban or at least regulate political dynasties?
If you head a political dynasty, will you be prepared to ask the members of your own dynasty to disband if you are elected President? If you have no dynasty, will you ask your friends and allies to dismantle their own dynasties as a precondition for working with your administration?
8. The Constitution provides for the separation of Church and State. This simply means giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, even though even Caesar is under God. Will you be prepared to undo any law or government policy that has allowed the State to dictate how citizens shall live their family lives and their faith? Are you prepared to accept the duty of the State to recognize and respect the ethical standards founded on the Moral Law, which is also the basis of positive law?
9. As presidential candidate, are you prepared to exert every effort to ensure clean, honest and transparent elections, or will you initiate or participate in any special operations to ensure your victory at all costs? Are you prepared to limit your campaign activities to whatever the law allows, during the official campaign period, or will you bend the law, break it if necessary just to be ahead of everybody else?
10. Do you believe that no candidate should spend much more than he expects to earn legally from the position he seeks, or do you believe winning is all that matters, and to hell with all ethical principles?
11. Do you recognize that there are various forces–economic, political, domestic and foreign–that would like to own and control the President of the Philippines for their own ends? Will you allow yourself to be owned or controlled? How can you convince us that you won’t?
12. Do you have anything in your family history that would have prompted Gen. Antonio Luna as shown in the movie “Heneral Luna,” to invoke “Artikulo Uno” on any of your forebears, or do you have enough courage and patriotism to fight and stand for our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, regardless of where the assault is coming from?
13. Will you be prepared to call for the nullification of the elections if they prove to be rotten, and the immediate dismissal by the people of the Aquino regime and join the National Transformation Council in organizing a caretaker government to oversee the transition?
PERSONAL. Deepest condolences to the bereaved family of our dear departed friend, former Senator Joker Arroyo. The nation has lost a statesman, one of the last of its kind. His last act of statesmanship was to ask that no necrological services be held in his honor at the Senate. It was a humble plea that we honor his memory in love, friendship, prayer and silence. This would spare his friends of the need to heap upon him praises he did not need, and the public of orations that often said more of the speaker than of the deceased. God has taken the exact measure of Joker’s life, and we can no more add to nor subtract from it. For all his sparing and deliberate use of words, Joker said more than enough on the things that count. When wisdom has ceased to emanate from the thrones, we will have to turn to the tombs, said Victor Hugo of Voltaire. From here on, one of these tombs shall be Joker’s.