The President has transferred the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office back to the supervision of the Department of Health.
I found this news item, on a slum community that spontaneously protested on behalf of the armed forces, very interesting:
“We don’t want them to leave,” 41-year-old mother Nene said, saying the number of robberies and brawls dwindled since the soldiers arrived in their area.
The residents said the soldiers’ night patrol kept the neighborhood safe. They were also thankful for the multipurpose center the soldiers renovated, the day care center and public toilets they built and the medical missions they conducted.
“They have been helping us. Only drug addicts and criminals would want to drive them away,” said 42-year-old Peter, who has been staying at the area in the last two decades.
Protest organizers tried to explain that soldiers should be deployed in combat areas in the provinces, but not in the metropolis. The jeers of the residents prevailed, however.
This only goes to show the vast potential of “winning hearts and minds,” when the armed forces does it without liquidating people or having their presence in a community inaugurate a series of disappearances. When news first began trickling in, of military operations in Central Luzon and provinces like Bulacan, I heard many stories of how brutal the soldiers could be; but I also heard stories of how, in some areas at least, the public came to welcome the military’s presence because incidents of hooliganism, drug-dealing, even public drunkenness, diminished significantly. The fear of the public in such areas became: now that it’s all sorted out, what happens when the military leaves?
And again, imagine what a difference it could make to law and order, not to mention rural development, if institutionally, the armed forces didn’t have to struggle with a debased and discredited officer corps, one which turned a blind eye to human rights abuses?
Someone once asked me, what sort of military operations I would support. I said, if our AFP went to the areas of the country that are basically a no-man’s land, built roads, set up rural electrification, and prevented rebels from blowing up vital infrastructure; if, furthermore, they did so not by means of frightening the public, but welcoming public scrutiny of their actions, without beating anyone up, then their not only respecting the population, but tangibly improving rural lives would crush the insurgency. On the whole, that’s how the Huks were crushed in the 50s.
I don’t remember where, exactly, I read it, but there’s something like a shortage of 8 million toilets in Metro Manila. The police do not have the capacity to build them; only the armed forces, with its engineering battalions, does. On that basis alone, sending soldiers to slum areas makes sense, as would having them build roads, clean esteros, and imagine the effect if they invented a practical, prefabricated home they could easily build for the poor? Imagine further if the police could swoop in and mop up petty criminal syndicates. But neither the police nor the military can do so, properly, because their leadership is compromised: for example, if the army had conducted its operations prior to, and not during, the election season, that’s one cause for skepticism that wouldn’t even have arisen.
Even as thousands of overseas Filipino voter ballots end up returned to the Comelec, and the head of the CBCP has had to wade in to patch up a quarrel between electoral watchdog groups (they seem headed toward a spectacular flop this coming election; and for all their concern, I don’t know what foreign observers will really accomplish, concerned though they may be), the focus today is on the surveys.
The polling firm has declared ten candidates in the “safe” zone: Legarda, Villar, Escudero, Pangilinan, Lacson, Aquino, Recto, Cayetano, Zubiri and Honasan. Which means much of the excitement in the canvassing will focus on the prospects of Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, and Vicente Sotto III. Those who come after them in the rankings seem to face insurmountable odds: no candidate, SWS says, in the past three elections, has been able to overcome a “statistically significant” lead by their closest opponent. Which I suppose means that only candidates who have scores plus or minus three points compared to Joker Arroyo, in 12th place in the survey, are still in the fight.
This brings up something else: the question of machinery and command votes. SWS seems to suggest they can can only take a candidate so far. And in Teddy’s World, here’s an interesting observation:
In our city in the province, we have two leading mayoralty candidates. One is from Kampi and the other is from Lakas CMD. Campaign managers from the 2 parties are openly campaigning for the GO (Genuine Opposition) candidates. Their sample ballots have either Lakas or Kampi bets from gubernatorial posts to city councilors, but the senatorial posts are left blank. This must be the command votes the wise politicians of Malacañang are talking about.
Even if we assume a command vote situation, the dilemma the administration provincial forces will be facing is: of the bottom three, Joker, Angara, and Sotto, all are administration candidates but one will end up losing. What makes it tougher is that as the campaign comes to an end, all three were proving droopy in the surveys, Joker particularly so (recall the scuttlebutt I heard during the taping of GMA7’s “Isang Tanong”? Joker had decided not to show up, because they sensed the coming survey results and decided to have an emergency meeting, instead, because of concerns he’d now be a ripe target for “junking,” precisely by the administration machinery). For example, it might be a better investment all around to junk Joker and attempt to pull off an electoral miracle by squeezing in Defensor (it could be passed off as divine providence, courtesy of El Shaddai and the Iglesia).
Jove Francisco says the Palace has been into survey-taking, too, commissioning one a week to track the senate results. He also provides scuttlebutt on the importance of survey rankings for candidates (some want to come out number one, others fear it), the questions arising from Palace people (how will they pull off electoral miracles?). A great read.
Eleksyon 2007 Survey Says has some nice charts covering the recent surveys, to track the progress of various candidates. See their Team Unity charts, Part 1 and Part 2; their Genuine Opposition charts, Part 1 and Part 2; and their chart for the top 5 Independents. Here’s my own version, based on the same SWS data, of the leading candidates:
You can also look at the Top 24 candidates based on Pulse Asia or SWS data, or compare them to each other. Or track how individual candidates have done, from the disastrous slide of John O., to the impressive gains of Trillanes and Zubiri (when he stopped relying on that noontime show jingle, and started talking seriously, his campaign took off, it seems).
And take a look, too, at how students are making their choices, in Get Involved (see the various mock elections held in college campuses).
In the punditocracy, my column for today is Paying the piper. The bills are going to be coming in after the elections, and government will be hard-pressed to honor them.
The Inquirer editorial says the large number of uncontested positions is a cause for democratic concern.
In the blogosphere, in Inquirer Current the question I tackle is: why vote? Some interesting explanations of why, can be found in the blogs. And the agonizing continues: see big mango, for example; though Lonely Vampire Chronicles faces an altogether different kind of angst: he’s all set to vote, but has discovered he may not be able to!