What we’ve learned: the Senate

So long as politics can be a lifetime profession for some people, thee will be the need, in my opinion, for a bicameral and not unicameral legislature. What can be debated is the relative power of one chamber vis-a-vis the other, and the means by which the upper house is elected. But in principle, a second chamber provides a useful antidote to a definite danger of government: the herd mentality among politicians.

Drilon’s passing into history -which is what his giving up the presidency of the Senate marks- presents a chance to judge the Senate’s record since July. Definitely, a mixed one.

Yesterday, Senator Manuel Villar -of whom, a colleague reminded me, it must be said, that he is an able politician- secured the necessary votes to ensure that there’s no wriggling out of the “gentleman’s agreement” he crafted with Franklin Drilon. While I do think Drilon deserves credit for eventually seeing the light, and opposing the President, he did so aided not by his personal political skills, which proved of the blundering kind, but instead, assisted by the obvious and crude attacks mounted against the Senate by the Palace.

Politically, Drilon has been about as slippery as a beached whale, which is not how being politically slippery -a natural requirement of the profession- requires. Villar is much less obviously slippery and, as his tactical feat in slipping past the impeachment complaint proved in 2000, capable of going for the jugular. Certainly his expected assumption of the Senate’s presidency in July will usher in his being a serious contender for the presidency (or prime ministerial office).

Consider Ricky Carandang’s interview of Frank Drilon on ANC last night:

Q: How many times did we have a reenacted budget and the blame goes to the Senate?

Drilon: Firstly, it was during the last one year when there was so much political turmoil in the Philippines that indeed it was a very difficult time for us in the Senate because of the constant attack to undermine us, because of the constant barrage of propaganda. It was not easy but we stood our ground, fought hard, we went to he Supreme Court and we led the petitioners in questioning EO464. But I am proud to say that a year ago, we were an active participant in crafting policies for the economy, for the social and political life of our country. The administration claims a strong economy because of good revenue collection. Who led this government in crafting the value added tax? Sen. Ralph Recto and the Senate. The President knows the kind of work that I did as Senate President in order to have this legislation that is important to our economy to push through. The other bills like the Anti-Money laundering, that was a very difficult piece of policy that we have to push through. But the past year forced the Senate to take a position that democracy was at stake and therefore we did take action which we thought was necessary in order that we can preserve our democratic system. Apparently it was in danger by the events that we all know of.

Q: Because it looks like we will going to have a reenacted budget this year?

Drilon: Reenacted budget this year. First it got to the Senate about March after 8 months or 9 months and we worked hard. We have the Committee of the Whole. Unfortunately the Senate thought there should be certain cuts made. It is a P1.053 T budget. The cut on the programmed portion was about P26 B and these were cuts which after analyzing the expenditure program, maybe could be set aside and reduce the deficit by P26 B. We talk about reorganization of the government which would not take place this year of which P10 B was allocated. We removed that. We removed the P5 B Kilos Asenso fund which was a lump sum appropriation in addition to the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of the local gov’t. units. The local gov’t units with P88 B, another P5 B was added without any indication how this will be used. During the committee hearings in the Senate, I personally asked NEDA and DILG to submit to us a set of criteria which will assure us that these funds will be used not for political patronage but really judiciously. For example I suggested to them why don’t we make it performance- based. If the LGU would be able to increase its revenue collection of local taxes, let us put counterpart funds in order to encourage them to lower their dependence on the internal revenue allotment, build up the capacity by encouraging them to collect local taxes and we will put in counterpart funds from the Kilos Asenso funds. We were ignored. They just said, ‘no, we have our own rules. We just couldn’t agree. You have a P3 B Kalayaan fund which again is a one liner. We have a P2.5 B repair of airports all over the country which the DOTC Secretary himself said this was not in our original plan but NEDA said we have an available funds to pump prime, P 2.3B. We can put this instead of here in airports, which you don’t really need, let us put this in the school building programs.

Q: There are questions and points raised that if the Senate were not there, would ever be raised?

Drilon: That’s right, yes. These would never be raised. We raised these, we made it public. Unfortunately the President said you cut it by P1, I will veto the budget.

Q: So there is no 2006 national budget?

Drilon: Chances are there would be none. We adjourned sine die today. I consulted Manny Villar before we decided to adjourn. He said there is simply no way that we can submit the bicameral conference committee report within today so even if we extend our session tomorrow, there will be no report. He said we will continue looking for ways by which we can come up with the budget. But if come July 24 there is no budget, then we just have to live with 2006 on the basis of 2005 budget.

Q: What about the criticism of Pres. Arroyo and Pres. Ramos that the Senate under Drilon has spent too much time investigating and not enough time on legislation.

Drilon: The investigation took place for the past one year where we said that there’s a lot of political events that led people to get disenchanted with what was happening.. Then we thought that we should use the Senate as a venue through which the people can ventilate their views and seek the truth. Seeking the truth is part of legislation. That is part of our job to provide the venue through which the people can ventilate and know what is happening in government.

Q: I wonder if you didn’t do that…

Drilon: I don’t know. The fertilizer scam was done by Sen. Jun Magsaysay. If he didn’t do that, I don’t know if it will ever surface.

Q: How would the country belike without a Senate?

Drilon: The most basic example is the wage increase, across the board. Move faster? What did the employers suddenly realized? I heard Mr. Donald Dee who is an avid supporter of this administration saying, ‘look we have to think twice about this unicameral parliamentary system.’ Suddenly they come up with a P125 across the board increase. Suddenly they realized that sometimes there is need for a check and balance.

Everything is there: the chicanery of the Palace and the lower house, the blundering verging on incompetence of the Senate as it endured the Palace’s assaults and fought back. Congress -both houses of it- does not exist only to pass legislation; it is meant to represent, and representation includes oversight, advocacy, investigation, what have you. But the Senate forgot that legislation is an important, function, too; and found its other efforts handicapped by clever legal maneuvering by the Palace. Still, they survived; and whether by cleverness or luck -or both- it remains an important political contender.

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    • manuelbuencamino on June 9, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Manolo,

    I don’t know if I would call Drilon a blundering politician. He was in Accra when it was The Firm and then he was able to transition to Cory’s cabinet and then to FVR’s. And then he went to the Senate and eventually capped his career as Senate president. Of course he would have wanted to become President. And who knows? As we all know the presidency depends on whether “it is God’s plan for me and for us” as Gloria once said. But all in all, I wouldn’t say he blundered his way through all that

    • jhay on June 9, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    They (NEDA) has no problem pump-priming P2.3B for airport repair but the government has no money to spend on building more schools?

    Tsk tsk tsk….

  1. What we have learned from:the tapes,national democrats,civil society , the senate and from events last year………

    We are still at a loss!

    • Joselu on June 10, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    That one has to bring to below ground level the meaning of what Statemanship means so as to qualify those so called senators.
    That a senator is a self-proclamed better then the others & just happens to know it all always.
    That nobody should fuck w/ their political ambitions because they have the key to bring the country to a stand-still.
    That senators will scrutinize the budget very closely to see for advanteges that others can have over them to block their ambitions.
    That senators have not done anything for this country to make it move forward.
    That a senator like Drilon is nothing but an opputtunist that one day tell pgma she is welcome to his city & the next day is part of a group that in vain wants to bring down the goverment.And who is it that will profit for it all – drilon.
    Thank god his no longer senate president.
    I don’t know what Villar will be like yet.
    But surely Drilon has brought down the supposed to be prestige of the senate.

    • juan makabayan on June 10, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    Good to have Senators Pimentel, Biazon and J Arroyo in times such as these ( i’m at a loss for words to describe what’s going on with our gov/country). Sen Drilon’s turn and turnabout makes him out ok, though not so, well, better late than never.

    Is Sen Villar, being a (big-)businessman and an independent, more vulnerable to GMA’s very effective ‘transactional’ style of leadership/governance than Drilon who is a lawyer and an LP? I hope not.

    • emilie on June 10, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    what we have learned from the senate is that GMA is still President of the Philippines while Drilon is no longer president of the senate. Poor guy he shot his mouth and feet many times and came out of the battle badly bruised and beyond rehabilitation due to poor stewardship or lack of it. Making “his” democracy an excuse for bad performance is the greatest blackeye to this country. He should understand that he should do his BASIC DUTY first because that is what he was paid to do and nothing can stop him from doing his “democracy” after. Even the crop of young leaders in his fold are now viewed with less consideration and goodwill because of their collective failure. Sayang

    • manuelbuencamino on June 10, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    Unlike Joselu and Emilie, I prefer Drilon to Gloria. I wouldn’t say he was better than Gloria because doing so would concede that there’s some good that can be squeezed out of her.

    And that silly criticism about Drilon being for gloria one day and against her the next. Drilon finally saw what a shit she was and he didn’t want any part of her anymore. What’s wrong with that? Joselu when you notice you have shit on your shoes don’t you wipe it off ? Why are you so angry at Drilon for doing just that?

    Emilie, the BASIC DUTY of a co-equal branch of government is to cooperate AND to check and balance the other two co-equal branches. So Drilon should just cooperate and forget check and balance?

    • vic on June 10, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    In a unicameral system (parliamentary) the Annual Budget is the biggest and the most important bill to be introduced and could make or break the Government of the Day. In a majority, the opposition can not do much except to debate the bill point by point but in a minority a budget bill should be pre-arranged and agreed document among the parties who support to government in passing the bill into law.

    The opposition Parties either in Bilateral or Unicameral, do not always mean to oppose. They are a check and balance for the Abuses and Arrogance of the Administration, but also Cooperation is Expected of them when it comes to responsible and reasonable legislations. What we are seeing in our system is that opposition will always oppose come what might be, the reason why the Government in Power will always resort to bribing and buying oppositions to its side and thereby allows it a Free Hand now with no longer “check and balance”. So Senator Drilon may have moved left and right, but the patterned had already been established, the only way to go is down.

    • emilie on June 10, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    as you said mr buencamino…check and balance…all he did was check check check where is the balance? zero balance. we have all sort of auditors in this country is that not their job to check? what has Drilon done? go to the press first and the facts may follow or not depend on purpose so..by the time the facts arrived it will spin and spin and they will only believe what they want to believe. And who said i prefer GMA? Tell you what I dont like them both but my dislike for one is greater than the other.Sorry

  2. I like Drilon better than GMA. GMA is kapit-tuko, Drilon at least has the strength of character to honor a gentleman’s agreement with Villar.

  3. as you said mr buencamino…check and balance…all he did was check check check where is the balance? zero balance.

    you’re right. the only thing the senate can do right now is check and highlight arroyo’s abuse and misuse of power.

    and yes, zero balance… in favor of the admin. kung napapansin mo, hindi accountable ang arroyo admin, because they still follow EO 464, kahit na unconstitutional yan. they can ignore the senate investigations because we are under a quasi dictatorship, emilie.

    we have all sort of auditors in this country is that not their job to check?

    right. they’re just as reliable and trustworthy as the DOJ, the COMELEC, the military, arroyo’s unemployment, classrom and population statistics.

    And who said i prefer GMA? Tell you what I dont like them both but my dislike for one is greater than the other.Sorry

    well, emilie. at least one them is not a disgrace and a fake masquerading as a public official.

  4. as you said mr buencamino…check and balance…all he did was check check check where is the balance? zero balance.

    you’re right. the only thing the senate can do right now is check and highlight arroyo’s abuse and misuse of power.

    and yes, zero balance… in favor of the admin. kung napapansin mo, hindi accountable ang arroyo admin, because they still follow EO 464, kahit na unconstitutional yan. they can ignore the senate investigations because we are under a quasi dictatorship, emilie.

    we have all sort of auditors in this country is that not their job to check?

    right. they’re just as reliable and trustworthy as the DOJ, the COMELEC, the military, arroyo’s unemployment, classrom and population statistics.

    And who said i prefer GMA? Tell you what I dont like them both but my dislike for one is greater than the other.Sorry

    well, emilie. at least one them is not a disgrace and a felon masquerading as president.

  5. how many times did the Palace call for a legislative-executive meeting to discuss the budget? to my recollection, there was only one LEDAC convened by the executive and it was mainly on how to resolve Cha-cha through legislative dialogue. it would be dishonest to lay the blame on the budget impasse on the senate alone.

  6. A spin will only be true if believed by people who in one way or another failed to analyze the information.

    I agree with you both, John and Toots. There are always two sides of a coin. We cannot trust anything this administration says as it had been caught lying time and time again. The lower house sat on the budget for so long and now tries to point the blame on the senate.

    • Karl Garcia on June 11, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    There is still another topic not yet discussed about last year and that is the impeachment.
    For me I just hope that the next impeachment would proceed without complications of one who filed first is not the right person or what not.And the obvious numbers game,malay natin kung ano ang mangyayari.Pasensya na pero para sakin kung matino ang takbo ng proceedings I would respect the result ,whatever it maybe.

    • mlq3 on June 11, 2006 at 4:29 pm
      Author

    unless i’m mistaken, president arroyo is the first chief executive to ignore the tradition of submitting the budget at the same time as state of the nation address. the legislative calendar works according to a schedule involving the submission of the budget by the president (in july since 1987, and prior to martial law, in january) followed by deliberations by the house and then by the senate.

    the problem is that a tradition may have endured virtually unchanged for 12 administrations, but if one president ignores tradition -and convinces everyone else involved to do so- then it’s very difficult to justify restoring the old ways. the president realized that the public would not demand adherence to the old budgetary process; neither would congress. the 2006 budget will not be the first reenacted budget and reenacted budgets are what have characterized the present administration. having allowed and even been happy with the process in the past, Congress can’t complain much.

    Also while a line item veto is usually the norm followed by the executive, the president didn’t hesitate to say she would veto the entire budget. and the senate folded. if i’ve been harsh in speaking of drilon, at least he meant well and tried his best; the first act of the new villar senate presidency, instead, was to raise the white flag in the budgetary process.

    • Karl Garcia on June 11, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    I did not argue with Postgigo Luna in the preceeding blog about his blaming the senate,now by that action or inaction of senate president Villar about the budget, I can now say that the senate is partly to blame.

  7. If I had my way, a fake, illegitimate, immoral, corrupt, arrogant, repressive, dictatorial, dishonest government DOES NOT DESERVE A BUDGET, NOT EVEN A REENACTED ONE. PERIOD.

    With a government that we have now, it remains to be seen whether the people’s money — our money — will be used according to the purpose for which it was appropriated.

    It’s an insult for the Senators (Lapid excluded) to be compared with GMA. When you speak of GMA, my pet dog would be a much better alternative — at least I know my dog won’t be lying, cheating and stealing.

  8. Dear John (Marzan),

    Thank you for characterizing the COMELEC as unreliable and untrustworthy. I expect that, believing this to be true, we must also question the election of Drilon as Senator since it was the same COMELEC that administered the polls that installed the stalwart from Iloilo. At the same time, let us all challenge the rights of all Senators and all Members of the House of Representatives, as well as all Mayors and Governors and Councilmen, because these worthies were also installed as a result of elections administered by the untrustworthy and unreliable COMELEC we Filipinos have been saddled with.

    Or are we saying that the COMELEC is unreliable and untrustworthy only when it comes to elected officials we despise? And that the COMELEC’s role in Drilon’s rise to power is unremarkable since he is “not a disgrace?”

    I await your reply with bated breath.

  9. If Mrs. Arroyo refuses to yield the power she did not have in the first place, then by all means let this administration rot and self-destruct. As I have always believed, no earthly power lasts forever, especially if it proceeds from a bogus mandate.

  10. The target of the CHEATING in the last elections was FPJ, not Drilon. Besides, Drilon was with Gloria at that time. And mind you, ComelecAko, I equally despise despise Miriam Santiago, Lito Lapid, et al but I am not questioning their being elected into office because their victory was not tainted by the virus that was GARCI.

  11. The COMELEC? UNRELIABLE and UNTRUSTWORTHY are even kinder terms that Mr. Marzan so respectfulluy used to describe a disgraced institution. CORRUPT should be the better description to use.

  12. So we accept that the COMELEC cheated ONLY for Gloria?

  13. so angry, bystander. If you believe that Garci only cheated for Gloria, what’s with the sweeping attacks on the COMELEC? Konting moderation siguro. Let’s try to put blame on the proper shoulders instead of demonizing an entire agency composed of hard-working men and women who want nothing more than to serve the people. How’s that?

  14. As far as the “evidence” suggests, the cheating that was PROVEN was with respect to GMA. But it does not follow that no cheating took place with respect to the other candidates, both local and national.

    Why? Can you say with all HONESTY and SINCERITY that the COMELEC is RELIABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY?

  15. like you said, my buddy, the “evidence” — in quotes; not really evidence; more like public opinion crafted by those who stood most to gain.

    PROVEN? where was it proven? don’t you remember? even Ping conceded defeat. even Roco and that evangelist fellow conceded. The PET found Loren’s complaint baseless.

    My friend, the people who make up the COMELEC are just like you. Concerned deeply about the welfare of the nation, and intent on serving the public. Sure there are a few bad apples, but what organization doesn’t have those? Should we kill all lawyers because some are crooked?

    • manuelbuencamino on June 11, 2006 at 6:28 pm

    ComelecAKO, some candidates will always try to cheat in elections but no candidate will get away with cheating if the Comelec does its job right.

    So comelecAKO how do you explain why cheating is the norm rather than the exception in our elections?

    • manuelbuencamino on June 11, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    emillie,

    ‘checks and balance’ are not independent of the other. You cannot attain balance without the checks. Granted that there may be instances when the checks produce an imbalance but that’s the trade-off. Eliminating checks vests exclusive power to the executive. Would you like that arrangement if Drilon were in Malacanan and Gloria was the Senate president?

  16. hey manuel! nice of you to weigh in. cheating happens because the COMELEC is made up of people. people get tempted with money. cut off the money and you eliminate these people’s motivation for cheating.

    so you see, let’s not put it all on the comelec, eh? politicians and their win-at-all-costs attitude is at least as much to blame. so too are voters who don’t take the time to scrutinize their candidates for qualifications or integrity.

    having the comelec around is convenient for the discontented, you know. sometimes i wonder if those people wouldn’t have a heart-attack if they woke up one day and their wasn’t a comelec tar-baby anymore. *gasp* who would they blame then? themselves?

  17. Yes, I am so angry. Very angry at all the deception, corruption, repression happening around — including the COMELEC as an INSTITUTION.

    Had the Comelec performed its constitutional mandate during the last elections, we would not have this political CRISIS that we have now. Had the Comelec refused to grant the wishes of GMA to pad her votes, we would not be faced with all these threats of “destabilization” coming from all sides of the political spectrum. Had the Comelec not wasted 1 billion pesos in the the graft-tainted attempt at automatizing the elections, there wouldn’t be any “sweeping” attacks against the Comelec as an institution. To make matters worse and despite the ruling in Santiago vs. Comelec, the Comelec as an institution still proceeded to verify the signatures of the P.I. of the Sigaw ng Bayan, wasting people’s money in return.

    Me, us, they demonizing the Comelec? I am not out to demonize an already demonized and disgraced institution. That would be utterly redundant.

    Moderation? Okay. The Comelec is not “highly” corrupt. It is plainly corrupt. It did not cheat for Gloria. It simply does not know how to count.

  18. hokay, my bystanding friend. i hope i don’t make you angrier when i point out that: the COMELEC did perform its duties in 2004. You have a Congress don’t you? and mayors and governors and whatnot?; all this destabilization started when some disgruntled lawyer decided to propagate something he knew had no evidentiary value, all for the sake of gnawing at the roots of his bitterness over not getting what he wanted from this government; “there was no evidence that graft attended the bidding process” for the automated counting machines – the chief justice himself said that (ITFP v. COMELEC); Santiago v. COMELEC said that the COMELEC should not take cognizance of petition for people’s initiative – the COMELEC hasn’t done that; Santiago v. COMELEC also said that before a petition is filed, the COMELEC can verify signatures – and that’s what the COMELEC did; the verification of signatures – whether for people’s initiative or anything else – is part of the COMELEC’s functions – how can performing duty be a waste of people’s money?

    Glad you’re not out to demonize the COMELEC. All we really want is a public that examines allegations with a critical mind. If you do that, then whatever your conclusions may be, happy na ako.

    Oh dear. Does this mean you’re not going to vote in 2007?

  19. I concede that the “evidence”, e.g. the Hello Garci tapes, may not stand in a court of law not so much because of the contents found therein but more so because there is a law prohibiting the introduction of the same and also to discourage unauthorized recordings as a matter of public policy. But the public is not so dumb as to not distinguish between a real conversation (Hello Garci) and a fake one (X tapes of Chavit). That was why when the Hello Garci scandal broke out, people really believed that it was Mrs. Arroyo talking to Mr. Garci. You may downplay it as a mere public opinion but you must remember that public office is a public trust. When a public official loses the trust of his constituents, the former would find it very hard to govern, as is happening right now.

    Looking back, all the other candidates — Lacson, Roco, Villanueva — conceded because the margin of the FPJ over them was far bigger. But FPJ did not concede, even unto his untimely death.

  20. I am not downplaying public opinion, but there is a difference between OPINION and objective proof, my friend. If people were to interchange the two as tho’ they were the same, then we might as well throw out all pretense of due process and having a government of law. In that crazy world, anyone who can shout loud enough and long enough won’t have to prove that he is right. he just has to get others to shout with him, and everyone who doesn’t share his OPINION be damned (because rest assured, not everyone shares our opinions). Last i looked, that isn’t democracy.

    You might think that our government has failed – and i’m not going to contest that opinion – but to undermine the principles of democracy simply because one government doesn’t meet your approval isn’t true adherence to democracy, but just so much lip service.

    And yes, the government is finding it very difficult to govern now, because public trust has been eroded. But the COMELEC – and other institutions of government – must be beyond that if the country is to have any hope of surviving past the current dispensation. Instead of destroying public confidence in institutions with opinions masquerading as objective facts, we should encourage people to help rebuild those foundations by participating more actively in the various spheres of government. Thus, for the COMELEC, maybe we can have more concerned people helping NGOs out, or maybe we can teach voters to be more discerning, and so on.

    About the also-rans … are you saying that because they didn’t have a hope of winning, they didn’t care to see if cheating happened? C’mon, man. Villanueva alone had thousands of volunteers. You saying all those people weren’t on the look out for cheating? that if they saw it, they clammed up because Villanueva wouldn’t win anyway? What about Ping? If he didn’t care then, why should he care now?

    And even assuming that you’re right, what does that say about the moral mettle of our politicians?

  21. Dear John (Marzan),

    Thank you for characterizing the COMELEC as unreliable and untrustworthy. I expect that, believing this to be true, we must also question the election of Drilon as Senator since it was the same COMELEC that administered the polls that installed the stalwart from Iloilo. At the same time, let us all challenge the rights of all Senators and all Members of the House of Representatives, as well as all Mayors and Governors and Councilmen, because these worthies were also installed as a result of elections administered by the untrustworthy and unreliable COMELEC we Filipinos have been saddled with.

    all i know is that there’s a huge COMELEC dagdag bawas operation spearheaded by Garcillano along with many local COMELEC officials and the military to rig the elections in favor of Arroyo. Very unlikely na the elections was rigged to help the opposition. LOL.

    did drilon benefit from the COMELEC cheating operations? I don’t know. He used to be an admin candidate, so baka pwede… but i doubt it. kung may ebidensiya na nakipag sabwatan sila roco, lacson, FPJ at bro. eddie sa COMELEC para nakawin ang presidential elections, i have not seen it yet.

    And as long as Arroyo is in power, untouchable sila garci, joc joc bolante (the bagman) at ang mga minor COMELEC operators na kasama sa GLORAGATE operations.

    and these types of massive administration operated cheating can be repeated if needed dahil alam ng mga dagdag bawas operators sa militar at COMELEC na pro-protektahan sila ni arroyo kung mahuli sila, kagaya nina garci at jocjoc.

    So we accept that the COMELEC cheated ONLY for Gloria?

    according to zuce, many candidates from the admin benefitted from Arroyo’s dagdag bawas operations. so i think it’s accurate to say na a SIGNIFICANT part of the COMELEC/military dagdag bawas operations and resources were used to help arroyo steal the elections.

    so angry, bystander. If you believe that Garci only cheated for Gloria, what’s with the sweeping attacks on the COMELEC? Konting moderation siguro. Let’s try to put blame on the proper shoulders instead of demonizing an entire agency composed of hard-working men and women who want nothing more than to serve the people. How’s that?

    I’m sure there are many good COMELEC officials like rashma hali and others, but as long as arroyo is still in power and all those involved in the GLORIAGATE dagdag bawas operations are still not punished, the COMELEC body and this administration will always be viewed with distrust and looked at as a joke.

    btw, when i mock and critize for the DOJ, it doesnt mean na walang iilang mabuting officials doon… it’s just that the ones in charge there have driven the our so called justice dept’s credibility down the dumpster.

    even Ping conceded defeat. even Roco and that evangelist fellow conceded. The PET found Loren’s complaint baseless.

    ping conceded because he was a distant third. Interesting though, nagcomplain ang kampo ni roco at eddie v. na may dayaan, but in the end conceded to the winner dahil kahit na may dayaan, kulelat pa rin sila. (pero nung sumabog ang GLORIAGATE scandal, more evidence and witnesses came to light, and all three (ping, roco, eddie) asked for Arroyo to resign and have snap elections.)

    but I don’t think FPJ’s camp conceded tho. but FPJ’s supporters were beaten up anyways para hindi sila makapalag. LOL. and arroyo’s brilliant PET/SC threw out the FPJ protest because “patay na raw siya”.

    And yes, the government is finding it very difficult to govern now, because public trust has been eroded. But the COMELEC – and other institutions of government – must be beyond that if the country is to have any hope of surviving past the current dispensation. Instead of destroying public confidence in institutions with opinions masquerading as objective facts, we should encourage people to help rebuild those foundations by participating more actively in the various spheres of government. Thus, for the COMELEC, maybe we can have more concerned people helping NGOs out, or maybe we can teach voters to be more discerning, and so on.

    as long as arroyo is in power, walang serious reforms na magaganap dahil ang priorities ng arroyo admin ay political survival at obstructing justice, and using any means necessary to stay in power and harass the opposition.

  22. as long as arroyo is in power, walang serious reforms na magaganap dahil ang priorities ng arroyo admin ay political survival, protecting the guilty at obstructing justice, and using any means necessary to stay in power and harass the opposition.

    • manuelbuencamino on June 11, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    comelecAko

    That there are those who offer bribes is not an issue. The issue is the fact
    that Comelec allows itself to be bribed. Have you ever heard of the word “no’?

    Don’t try to spread the blame. What kind of a rationalization is that anyway? “If no one tempts me I wouldn’t be tempted” Ganyan ba kayong mg tiga Comelec mag-isip? Kaya naman pala laganap ang corruption dyan.

    All this destabilization did not start because of a disgruntled lawyer. All of this destabilization started because a Comelec commissioner helped gloria arroyo cheat. Except for the fact that the tapes cannot be used as evidence, how can you say it won’t stand up in court. If you have been paying attention you will see that there are actual events that happened as a result of those conversations e.g. transfer/relief of marine commander, fear of kidnapping by FPJ supporter, tampering of ballots in areas mentioned by Garci etc. The Garci tapes merely corroborate these actual events.

    Now listen to the tapes again and tell me they were innocent conversations. Go to pcij blog and listen.

    When man decided to live under the rule of law he did not abandon common sense. As a matter of fact. common sense told him it was better to live under a system of laws than of men. so, in that way, common sense is the bedrock of laws. When a lawyer tells you to forget your common sense and to listen to him instead, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride.

    • juan makabayan on June 11, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    Since Abalos etal will not resign, Congress must pass an amendment that would
    1) abolish the present COMELEC and form a new body,
    2) change the process of the appointments to the commission
    3) remove from the COMELEC jurisdiction over election protests,
    Reform and automation undertaken by present COMELEC is hopelessly not credible. Forming a new Commission is a priority.
    Murphy’s Law basically is a about the possibility of something going wrong, ‘If something can go wrong, it will.’ In the case of automation, the problem is the possibility of systems failure.
    But in elections, the biggest problem/challenge is the certainty of cheating. Garci’s Law could be: “If an election can be cheated, it will”. Corollary, if COMELEC says an election system is fool-proof, it is not. How can we ‘Garci-proof’ an election system? Can any proponent guarantee that their system is ‘Garci-proof’? Or ‘Gloria-proof’? Should proponents/suppliers post a (P1B?) ‘Guarantee bond’ so that if the system is proven to have been cheated the bond is forfeited, failure of elections is declared, bond is spent for the re-run?
    A good election system must be “Murphy-proofed” which means fail-safe, reliable; and “Garci-proofed” which means cannot be cheated, secured.
    Can we hope for honest, credible and orderly elections — next time?

  23. Dear Manuel,

    Human intervention in the counting and canvassing process is the prime vulnerability of the electoral system. At that level, you have people – deputized by the COMELEC from any number of government agencies – who, among other things, are exposed to bribes. Are we going to pretend that everyone can say no? Everyone should – I absolutely agree – but isn’t it unrealistic to accept that everyone will say no? It’s not an excuse, Manuel, but you have to acknowledge facts if your goal is to find a solution and not just to comment on it.

    And that’s what the COMELEC has been doing: It has been looking into the mechanics of cheating so we can find a workable solution. Believe it or not, the leadership can change but if the mechanisms that allow cheating to transpire at the very lowest levels persist, then the problem won’t be fixed. We’re working to fix the problem, Manuel. Unfortunately, I am certain you won’t believe that.

    Spreading the blame? Is everyone else blameless, then? You surely do not mean that.

    And what kind of reasoning is “they said this, and lo and behold, happened”? Isn’t that a non-sequitur? C’mon, man. Revisionist lit is one of the most entertaining kinds precisely because it creates alternative histories to explain well-known events. Your own “Gloria’s diary” does exactly that, doesn’t it? Presents the President’s thoughts on recent events. Are we supposed to believe that it’s all true simply because when Gloria the diarist says this must happen, we all know that it actually happened? Or are we supposed to seriously believe that the Gloria diary “corroborates actual events?”

  24. Dear John,

    Salamat sa pag acknowledge na meron ding mabubuting COMELEC officials. The COMELEC is trying its best to weed out those na mapapatunayan na tiwali. Hope not to disappoint you.

  25. Dear Juan,

    Magaganda iyang mga suhestiyon mo. Sana pakinggan ka ng mga mambabatas kasi nangangailangan ng mga bagong batas upang maipatupad.

    The possibility of systems failure exists in all computer-driven systems. Even ATMs crash. What’s important is that a system for recovering from failure exists. Sana, when the drive to automate elections begins, you can provide feed-back to help the COMELEC see all possible risks that can be avoided.

    • Schumey on June 12, 2006 at 12:49 am

    A better alternative is to just let the voter post his vote in a big tally sheet in full view of everybody. Let’s do away with ballots and election returns. It would be too expensive for politicians to bribe their way to victory. Its also easier to count and check. Then all the Comelec and watchers have to do is text the results to Manila. Simple problems do not require complicated solutions.

  26. ComelecAKO,

    As regards the Comelec’s verification of signatures, I have this to say: http://attyerwinjames.blogspot.com/2006/04/bogus-initiative.html

    As regards the bungled automation project, “the Supreme Court directed the Office of the Ombudsman to determine whether there was criminal liability on the part of the public officials and private individuals involved. The Court also directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to take measures against the ill effects of the illegal disbursements of public funds made by reason of the void resolution and contract. Of the Php 2.5 billion earmarked for the same, Php 849 million had already been disbursed.” Until now the Ombudsman, for obvious reasons, has not complied with the Court’s order to investigate erring Comelec officials involved in the automation brouhaha.

    As regards Atty. Sammy Ong, he may have his reasons for deciding to reveal the tapes but it doesn’t erase the fact that:

    1. there really was wiretapping done by some elements of the ISAFP;

    2. as far as the tapes were concerned, the wiretapping centered on conversatons between Mrs. Arroyo and Garci; and

    3. the conversations showed that there was a standing order from Mrs. Arroyo, with Garci as the pointman, to ensure her election victory by at least a million votes.

    Look at the message, not the messenger ComelecAKO. Why do I say this? When Chavit came out with a revelation on Erap’s jueteng connections, were his testimonies of less evidentiary value merely because he also has a shadowy reputation and at that time, he had a personal rivalry with Erap’s buddy, Atong Ang?

    Will there be elections in 2007? Ask your Chairman first. The last time I heard him, he was quick to blame the Senate for its alleged failure to approve GMA’s proposed budget. He is now insinuating that the elections in 2007 might not push through!

  27. ComelecAKO,

    You also said:

    You said:

    “..but there is a difference between OPINION and objective proof, my friend. If people were to interchange the two as tho’ they were the same, then we might as well throw out all pretense of due process and having a government of law.”

    It’s not merely the opinion of one man or some disgruntled asshole, my friend. It’s public opinion shared by almost 80 percent of the populace, i.e. that GMA cheated with the acquiescence of Comelec — the institution you so strongly defend. And I am not mixing objective proof with opinion. I know the difference between the two. In fact, the proof that GMA cheated with the help of the Comelec is so damn clear that many people believed it to be true — that there really was fraud in the last elections!

    Speaking of due process and having a government of laws and not of men, I guess you should ask that to GMA. Did she follow the law when she called Garci and reminded him about her supposed artificial lead of 1M votes? Did she observe due process when she authorized the warrantless arrests of her critics?

    True, the essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. But didn’t the opposition give her the opportunity to do so when they filed the impeachment complaint, only to be dismissed later by her allies in Congress? The problem with officials accused of plundering the nation and ransacking the public treasury is that they always hide behind the cloak of “due process” or of “the law” when cornered. But they had no qualms disrespecting the law at the time they were committing the unthinkable.

    Undermining the principles of democracy? Isn’t cheating in the elections a violation of the democratic principle of 1 man = 1 vote? I, too, am a believer of democracy as well as of justice and freedom. But I will not mince any words criticizing people and institutions who are the ones actually undermining democracy. Unfortunately, what we have now is a democracy OFF the people, BUY the people and FOOL the people.

    “Instead of destroying public confidence in institutions with opinions masquerading as objective facts, we should encourage people to help rebuild those foundations by participating more actively in the various spheres of government.”

    Expressing what one feels about the current set-up is not destroying public confidence in government institutions. Sadly, this is what Mrs. Arroyo thinks when people question her legitimacy and her fitness to stay in office. She brands all her critics as “destabilizers” or enemies of the state, thinking that she personifies the State and vice-versa. I criticize the Comelec and its offcials and will continue to do so because there is a need to. Otherwise, I would be remiss in my duty as a citizen of this country if I allow cheating, lying or stealing to have its way without a voice being heard in protest.

    “About the also-rans … are you saying that because they didn’t have a hope of winning, they didn’t care to see if cheating happened? C’mon, man. Villanueva alone had thousands of volunteers. You saying all those people weren’t on the look out for cheating? that if they saw it, they clammed up because Villanueva wouldn’t win anyway? What about Ping? If he didn’t care then, why should he care now?

    As for Lacson and others, I’m afraid I may not be in the best position to answer for them. But I will try.

    They probably found it futile to complain about the cheating the moment they found out that the contest was really between FPJ and GMA. They wanted to be magnanimous in victory but they had to be gracious in defeat.

  28. Erratum: Please disregard the phrase “You also said:” Ty!

  29. Dear Schumey,

    Hehe. That’s an original thought!

  30. Schumey’s suggesstion is full of common sense and it is easily doable. There’s a solution for you Mr Comelec man…

    Problem is that a politico like Gloria, who intends to win by hook and (not “or”) by crook will not accept “Schumey’s sensible solution.

    That’s of course, only one of the hitches – the other hitch involves your classic rotten Comelec official.

    Think about this particular hitch – that rotten Comelec officials (not only commissioners) are likely to oppose such “original thought” not because of the principle that one man’s vote must be secret but because open voting might mean the end of bribes.

  31. Bystander,

    I had said pretty much the same thing in another blog (can’t remember which one now…) “If I had my way, … government DOES NOT DESERVE A BUDGET, NOT EVEN A REENACTED ONE. PERIOD.”

    It happened in the US when Clinton and Congress fought it out during his presidency – federal govt couldn’t even pay federal employees salaries because Congress refused to pass the budget and to think that the crime of Clinton was comparatively venial in relation to the immensity of the crime that this morally pandak persona who styles herself president of the republic committed against the Philippine Republic.

    I tell you what Bystander, if I had my way, I’d cut Gloria’s hands and tounge – for stealing and for lying. TAPOS!

  32. Precisely my point Anna, I would rather show my vote than be cheated in the end. We all want transparency, how transparent can an election be with my suggestion? Its also cost-effective and beats any computerized system as the results can be viewed by everybody. No more unnecessary loss of life due to threats of ballot-switching and snatching. And in the end, Comelec can once again hold its head high because nobody will attempt or be tempted to cheat.

  33. Anna,

    That’s a form of Islamic punishment. Haha!

    • emilie on June 12, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Getting all the pork and getting paid by the taxpayers for DOING NOTHING is a form of IMMORALITY. Is it not LEGALIZED CHEATING? Where output it concerned our judgement should not be clouded by our politics.

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