The toughest election fight ever

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Next year’s elections will be the most hotly contested since the snap presidential elections of January 1986.

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Three decades after the stolen polls triggered the EDSA People Power Revolution, the stakes are even higher: not just the most powerful position in the land, boosted by record budgets topping P3 trillion, but also the power of the Liberal Party-led coalition, desperate to stay in charge and continue evading accountability for pork barrel, smuggling and spending anomalies.

Having bribed Congress, browbeaten the Supreme Court and posted close associates atop the defense, police and election agencies, President Benigno Aquino 3rd brought the presidency closer than ever to Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law prowess.

With the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Malacañang usurped Congress’ appropriations power, which the Liberal-dominated legislature quite happily handed over. Lawmakers even threatened the High Court with investigation for unanimously declaring DAP unconstitutional, along with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the pork barrel created under Aquino’s mother Corazon.

Aquino also enjoys Marcos’ media sway, with top newspapers and broadcast programs singing praises, while downplaying excesses and villifying opponents. And like the late strongman, Aquino has constantly defended anomalous cronies, from shooting buddy Rico Puno, accused of jueteng payolas, to ex-bodyguard Alan Purisima, the resigned Philippine National Police chief.

That is the far more powerful presidency being contested eleven months from now. Hence, Aquino even tried to repeat Marcos’ act of ruling beyond the constitutional term. Thankfully, a Pulse Asia survey last year showed that Filipinos overwhelmingly oppose lifting term limits.

Liberals battle to escape jail
An even bigger stake in the 2016 polls, especially for the administration, is the government control now holding back corruption probers and prosecutors. Like Marcos’s regime, Aquino’s is loathe to give up power for fear of being held accountable for abuse and graft.

Unprecedented anomalies under Aquino include: the five-fold surge in smuggling to an estimated $19 billion a year, based on International Monetary Fund trade data; the trebling of pork barrel to over P20 billion a year; the P150-billion malversation-ridden DAP; and multi-billion-peso irregularities in city train, military helicopter and police firearms bidding that have endangered commuters and soldiers.

Add to that the tens of billions of pesos wasted by the Agriculture and Agrarian Reform departments, as reported by state auditors; and the Ombudsman’s failure to charge Aquino allies implicated in the P400-million fertilizer scam, for which hard evidence has been compiled years ago.

Liberals and their allies now fear the “selective prosecution”–as labeled by Catholic bishops and amply demonstrated by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima–which they have inflicted on political rivals in the guise of fighting corruption.

Hence, the Aquino camp wants its man or woman to win next May and keep hiding the anomalous PDAF papers, Customs records on 2,000-plus lost cargo containers, DAP fund releases and other incriminating pieces of evidence.

Recently, Aquino seemed ready to pick fast-rising “presidentiable” Sen. Grace Poe as standard- bearer. But he and his party now look unsure, and may still field survey laggard Secretary Mar Roxas. Evidently, they don’t trust anyone to hide their dirt, but someone already in the thick of it.

So expect administration politicos to battle more fiercely than ever before in the coming polls. They’re fighting to stay out of jail.

A tight race spurs cheats and goons
Besides enhanced presidential clout and administration desperation, two other factors make the coming elections even more contentious and probably more anomalous: the lack of a dominant candidate, and the vested interests of America, China, Malaysia and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Unless a clear frontrunner emerges, contending parties would likely think that cheating, intimidation, propaganda and other election tricks could make a difference in the race.

If a survey topnotcher leads by, say, 10 percentage points, rivals know it would take unconcealable levels of vote-buying, violence and fraud to win. But a statistically insignificant three-point difference–equivalent to just 1.5 million votes among 50 million-plus eligible voters–could tempt backers of trailing candidates to use more guns, goons and gold.

Plus “Hocus PCOS”, if the Commission on Elections again uses the Precinct Count Optical Scan system despite past polls marred by disabled safeguards, suspicous results and lack of citizen validation.

So expect more blood, cheats and fibs in the campaign and the polls.

America, China and Malaysia are watching
As if grabbing power, avoiding prison and overcoming slim margins weren’t reasons enough to contest May 2016 more intensely, outside powers are also watching closely and, almost surely, placing hefty bets.

The United States’ main interest is its Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with Aquino, now challenged in the Supreme Court for failing to go through the Senate, among other issues.

Under EDCA, American forces can increase deployment in the archipelago and use Philippine military bases–crucial to Washington’s Pivot To Asia policy shifting 60 percent of naval power to the region, amid China’s growing might.

Judging from public statements, however, no leading “presidentiable” shares Aquino’s aggressive stance toward China and staunch advocacy of the US defense presence, at home and in Asean.

Survey frontrunner Vice President Jejomar Binay favors maritime cooperation with China, not confrontation. He noted that the US alliance does not stipulate automatic military action in case of attack, unlike Washington’s defense treaty with Europe. Last week, popular Sen. Francis Escudero urged bilateral talks with Beijing.

As for Malaysia, it wants the next leader to implement the Bangsamoro agreement it mediated between the government and the MILF. That would sideline the Tausug-dominated Moro National Liberation Front, which backs the Philippine claim to Malaysia’s Sabah state.

Never much of a force in past elections, the MILF may well use its armed might and grassroots clout for the administration ticket, whose victory would help establish the rebels’ envisioned Bangsamoro.

So come 2016, bigger players than ever will be wooing, paying and pressuring the Filipino voter to elect leaders who will advance their interests. God help us.

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7 Comments

  1. What is the use of law for the Separation of Church to the state, Why not implement these rule of law, if these CBCP people is interfering the problem of state
    Truly before martial law, church people harboring the enemy of the state ‘ i.e. NPA, CCP and any other criminal minds who want to destabilize the Marcos Government…
    Ano masasabi ninyo na mga Pari?? Totoo ito di ba/?? you sheltering the enemies of the state, and you tolerate this peopl.. Bakit ngayon na mas maraming naghihirap, ang mayaman lalong yumayaman, bakit nagbubulagbulagan kayo?? dahil sa, isa kayo sa mga tumatanggap ng pera bilang suhol o lagay galing sa dilawang gobyerno ni Moron Aquino….

  2. Johnny Ramos on

    Binay will definitely win over Mar Roxas anytime of the day and twice on Sunday. It is a third candidate like Bongbong Marcos who might pull on trick on them because of scarcity of campaign funds. Political funders of Binay will definitely take a heat from Pnoy allies especially Kim Henares and the Amlac. Mar Roxas will probably spent on a fraction of their campaign funds and used the rest for his retirement. I estimate the LP can easily raised up to 20 billion pesos for next year election. Even if this amount will be spent their product Mar Roxas won’t sell. It can be compared like selling electric fan in Alaska or selling winter in during summer in downtown Manila.

  3. Mr. Saludo, up to now you still beLieve that fake EDSA Grab of Power? That PMacoy stolen the presidency from PCory, or the way around? If truly she won the 1986 Snap Election under the 1973 Consti, why dismantled it and established asap the Revolutionary Govt? Remember, het Cory Consti was done in 1987. So, Mr. Saludo if you have time, read not only those published by Yellows Multi-Media, Inc. Btw and unlike you, why not ask Mr. Lopez of The Standard for better perspective because he was present altogher the event. Joyful up to now for all diehard yellows, sadness for non-yellows and for those who opened-up their eyes and mind of the poorness it brought for almost 30 yrs.

  4. The blatant bribery of senators by pnoy aquino is indicative of a country which has no moral compass or even basic ethics, and it is estimated that under pnoy aquino the cost of corruption in the philippines has risen to nearly 1 trillion pesos a year ( equivalent to nearly 40% of annual budget).
    In 6 years pnoy aquino has managed to oversee more corruption in the country than in the previous 60 years combined.

    His allies feather their nests, build luxury mansions, buying property abroad, run their ‘secret’ businesses, and ignore the endemic and systemic corruption in the philippines which puts it on par with a south american banana republic.
    Tax evasion
    Illegal gambling
    Illegal mining
    Smuggling
    Contract kickbacks
    Congress/senate expenses
    GOCC’s
    Fake NGO’s ( usually set up by politicians)
    PDAF/DAP/BUB

    A few token fish for propaganda purposes try to mask what is actually happening, and LP are desperate that no opposition gets to audit the books/uncover the reality. As long as it is another trapo in 2016, it will be a change in some cast members, but ‘theft as usual’

    Pnoy aquino et al makes sepp blatter and FIFA look like amateurs when it comes to irganised crime.

    • I Remember... on

      100% with you. Blatter is an amateur…

      But who will catch those crooks? American FBI, like for Blatter? Or next President? or it will never happen?

  5. Horacio B. Freires on

    We have to delay the BBL beyond 2016 where there is no more oil (ARAMCO, 80% supplier of world’s fossil fuel) in the middle east. . and we can negotiate from a stronger position. . The Muslims will have no more supply of finances from the “black gold” in the middle east (Ghadafi is also no more). . We can conceptualize the worst scenario of WAR. . We can go to war (like Erap did, many admired him when he defeated them) because the muslims will have no more money to buy amunitions / bullets tho’ they may have plenty of guns. . . We should not allow any part of Mindanao to be controlled by the muslims (gun-powder-minded. . pulbura utak) militarily. . because they will install nuclear missiles there and point them to Metro Manila. Like what Muslim Pakistan did to HIndu India immediately after separating from their own country (India). so India followed suit. . It brought the tears from the eyes of Mahatma Ghandhi. We have no such missiles to point to them (We get them from the US? and be forever defendent to them?. .NO WAY!!).. India & Pakistan NOW have “peace” which might be the concept of our President Pnoy. . but in an atmosphere of “FEAR”. .WE DON’T WANT THAT KIND OF PEACE. .By the way the Islam religion has been long ago predicted to disappear from the planet. . It is now in the process of self-destruct (“you will know them by their fruits”. . guess who said this. . but He is not the one who made the prediction. . It is the World Teacher who came from India). . So no need to worry. .God is there. . The SAF-44 massacre had indeed been the eye-opener to all of us. . the nome-de-guerre of Iqbal, the non-inclusion of other ethnic groups in Mindanao. .that even educated Muslims are against the BBL, the bribing of Congressmen (50M ea.), the money coming from Malaysia, the Senators included in the plan (200M ea.). . The Chinese are readying for war. . the Americans will face them. . the MILF had been prepared for war with or without BBL. . We have to be prepared for it. . in the name of REAL PEACE. . WE HAVE TO FIGHT FOR REAL & RIGHTEOUS PEACE. . .NOT TO BEG FOR ITS FALSITY. . !!

  6. Isang bagay ang nakakaasar sa nakasulat dito,bakit ginagawang bida ang mga Catholic bishop ngayon nakikisakay lang ang mga ito kapag ang sitwasyon ay mainit na! Ok na sana!kaya di gumaganda ang takbo lagi isinisingit ang mga pari!