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An abnormal return to normality
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on June 7, 2007 128 Comments 3 min read
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A thoughtful Manila Times editorial on the kick-off for the centennial year of the {“hard workig,” Ricky Carandang calls it) House, wondered what the Speaker would say at the banquet marking the adjournment of the House of the 13th Congress. The Speaker, taking a cue from the President who lavished praise on the House and gave every sign of wanting to continue their partnership, obliged by saying it will be Charter Change, Part 2.

I was at the Batasan to listen to the President’s speech (our book on the 100 year history of the House was launched there). I was hoping, against hope, to hear clear indications she was preparing to bow out from office in 2010. The signs that she’s thinking of doing that were ambiguous, at best. She did try to sound conciliatory -even to the point of irony- by praising civic and church groups that conducted quick counts and foiled fraud, by praising the armed forces whose rank and file disobeyed orders to vote 12-0, by calling for magnanimity when it isn’t hers to give, and by saying the booming stock market and the good 1st quarter are signs of God’s will.

Besides pleasure in seeing our book launched, it was worth it to be at the Batasan to be able to shake the hand of Rep. Crispin Beltran, finally released from detention and able to do his work. A relevant reflection is in the blog of The Philippine Experience.

My column yesterday was A way forward. I wrote it in an optimistic frame of mind; I’m less optimistic after hearing the President’s speech and reading the Speaker’s banquet remarks.

Two relevant Inquirer editorials: Mandate for change, on the implications of the massive administration senatorial defeat, and The decider, on the absurdity of proclaiming a failure of elections in Maguindanao.

In the PCIJ, my analysis of the 2007 elections was published yesterday, too: An Abnormal Return to Normality, I titled it. This is because the 2007 midterms marks, in a sense, a return to where we last were in 1995, when the last mid-terms were held. The 2001 elections should have been mid-terms but became, instead, a referendum not on the incumbent, but on his ouster. In that sense 1995-2005 became a decade of political turbulence: the strong showing of FVR’s candidates in 1995 gave him the confidence to propose the extension of his term, contributing in turn to the public backlash that Estrada’s election represented and the middle- and upper-class backlash against his mandate culminating in impeachment and Edsa Dos, which triggered Edsa Tres, which resulted in the President breaking her promise not to run, and who sought a victory at all costs, etc.

The 2007 elections were in many ways, a validation of our past political history (administrations never lose the House; but an administration’s popular acceptability is best measured by the Senate results); and a repudiation of the President’s past achievements: recall she contested, and won, two senatorial races under her administration, in 2001 and 2004; her defeat in this year’s senate race must be compared to her past victories.

Thanks to for the capsule review of my article in his blog.

Incidentally I ran into defeated senatorial candidate John Osmena, and asked him what he intended to do. He says he is going to take up political blogging. Should make for interesting reading.

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  1. I really feel that there’s something wrong with giving Maguindanao (or any province) the power to decide who the last senator would be. Special elections in Maguindano gives that power to them because they already know who may or may not enter the magic 12 that’s why I would like to see special elections in Maguindanao to only include elections for local officials. It’s just that this idea is not supported by law.

    As the Inquirer editorial says, it’s the same as what Abalos has done in ordering the special elections!

  2. So what else is new MLQ3? Since when have you been “optimistic” about the President? I don’t think it is necessary time and again for her to assure you , or anyone, that her term expires in 2010. It is in the Constitution, ain’t it? Why is it always an issue with you people? Is it all up to her? I think we should cease acting like juveniles and grow up for our own sake.

  3. Bencard,

    As soon as she grows up and respects the Constitution and the rule pf law.

  4. Buencamino, if PGMA doesn’t respect the Constitution and the rule of law, why is she still the President? You and your ilk went to hell and back to remove her but did you go past salivating for her ouster? She is our President because our laws and the Constitution say she is, not you, mlq3 or cvj.

  5. bencard, because if stability is what you want, then let’s all have something to be able to look forward to. you can look forward to her stepping down in 2010 with a positive legacy, i can look forward to the country finally having a government with a mandate and off to a fresh start.

    but since the president is the leader of two parties, and if the two parties want to change the rules, and the rules they want changed are precisely those that require her to step down in 2010, well… then what her party wants is what she wants, until she gives a statement to the contrary.

  6. As soon as she grows up … mb, for someone who can easily summon her murder instinct, you are literally asking the impossible, not even with Havianas flip flops.

  7. Bencard,

    “Buencamino, if PGMA doesn’t respect the Constitution and the rule of law, why is she still the President?”

    The correct question is, “why is she still in power?”

    And that should take care of the first part of your question.

  8. I believe Bencard also said those lines (It is in the Constitution, isn’t it?) back in the 70’s and when Marcos chagned the constitution, well Bencard can always say “it is in the Constitution, isn’t it?”.
    And he (or she?) is right, mlq3. From his excellent reasoning, Gloria is the President, therefore she respects the constitution and the rule of law. Thus, everything she does is constitutional and legal. Man, you are awesome!

  9. Bencard,

    “She is our President because our laws and the Constitution say she is, not you, mlq3 or cvj.”

    By the way, where can I find that in the Constitution?

    I thought my vote counts, but with that remark coming from a person with unquestionable integrity and no hidden motives (remember that post about questioning the media?) and a good writer at that, I am not sure anymore.

    And one more thing. I thought you are from the great beyond Philippine borders. Are you perhaps an OFW? Just asking because you said “She (Gloria) is our president …” Thanks

  10. “Buencamino, if PGMA doesn’t respect the Constitution and the rule of law, why is she still the President?”

    is respect (or the lack of it) for the constitution and the rule of law concomittant to the role as president?
    will someone relive to me the story of how it was during marcos era? would like to hear it from an exile, preferably.

  11. RESPECT??! GMA doesn’t know that word.

    Here’s my proposal on how we can move forward:

    1. Let’s forget about impeachment. *ducks*

    2. Let’s have closure on the controversial issues with criminal liabilities. e.g. Fertilizer Fund, Pidal Account(money laundering),Singson (a self confessed criminal on the lose), Garci wiretap controversy.

    3. If we need to revamp our constitution lets put a minimum of 5 years to study the changes before presenting it to the people.

  12. I read somewhere (Inquirer, I think, interview with Pablo Garcia) that impeachment, if it would be initiated in the House, would come from Lakas. With a hanging senate already installed, Joe De V has enormous leverage with GMA.

  13. 2. Let’s have closure on the controversial issues with criminal liabilities. e.g. Fertilizer Fund, Pidal Account(money laundering),Singson (a self confessed criminal on the lose), Garci wiretap controversy. – from Francis

    I believe closure meant having this cases solved and not just a mere “FORGIVE AND FORGET” scenario.

    May i also add that extra judicial killings and forced disappearances be one of the priorities.

    People move forward if they aren’t continuously haunted by their unresolved past.

  14. Beancurd, the Constitution does not say that Justice Reynato Puno is the Chief Justice, Manuel Villar is the Senate President or Jose de Venecia is the Speaker of the House of Representatives either, does it?

    No, Beancurd, I am not an ofw. I am a dual citizen residing in the U.S. but keeping myself abreast of what is happening in the land of my birth.

  15. “I don’t think it is necessary time and again for her to assure you , or anyone, that her term expires in 2010. It is in the Constitution, ain’t it? Why is it always an issue with you people? Is it all up to her?”


  16. “She is our President because our laws and the Constitution say she is, not you, mlq3 or cvj.”

    -She is our president because first, Garci and the Abalos Comelec said so; second, because the house of representathieves said so; and third, because esperon said so.

    The Constitution and the laws apply only to legitimately elected presidents. It does not legitimize a bogus presidency.

  17. What I can suggest since GMA has the support of the house and the AFP to remain in power until her term expires according to the present constitution, the Filipinos need to be more vigilant in guarding how thier government manage “taxes and the countries’ borrowings”.

    The Black & White movement for example can add to their mission (if not part of it yet) as a watchdog to review high profile government transactions since those papers are considered public documents (hope it is not top secret in RP).

    In short people should be more aggressive in fighting corruption. There are so many ways to do these. Reporting the lifestyles of government workers who are living beyond their means and follow-up their prosecution is a good example.

    If there is a credible NGO who will advocate for these, I am sure thousands of volunters will join. The Filipinos have probably done these in the May 07 elections, so The Filipinos can do it.

    The teleserye “Maria Flordeluna” can be at least a modern day story of the meaning of Rizal’s Noli & Fili. It is the Filipinos themselves who can make the country better.

  18. I suggest instead giving GMA a 21 middle finger salute on every national occasion like Independence Day. She might get the drift after a while.

  19. the problem, bystander, is that you are not a duly-constituted judge with real power to give effect to your anti-GMA judgment. You are just a puny blogger like everyone else here. There is a process – either follow it or just shut up. Otherwise you can take the law into your own hands at your peril.

  20. Bencard,

    “I am a dual citizen residing in the U.S. but keeping myself abreast of what is happening in the land of my birth.”

    Was there a failure of elections in Maguindanao?

  21. “the problem, bystander, is that you are not a duly-constituted judge with real power to give effect to your anti-GMA judgment. You are just a puny blogger like everyone else here. There is a process – either follow it or just shut up. Otherwise you can take the law into your own hands at your peril.”

    -i’d rather be a puny blogger than a puny apologist whose puny defense for a puny president is full of puny arguments.

  22. “There is a process – either follow it or just shut up. Otherwise you can take the law into your own hands at your peril.”

    -I won’t shut up for so long as there are people like you who won’t.

  23. “I suggest instead giving GMA a 21 middle finger salute on every national occasion like Independence Day. She might get the drift after a while.”

    -The suggestion is well-taken. The apologist equally deserves to be given a 21 middle finger salute.

  24. “I am a dual citizen residing in the U.S. but keeping myself abreast of what is happening in the land of my birth.”

    -To keep himself abreast with what is happening in the land of his birth, he watches news aired by sequestered TV stations like NBN4 and RPN9 and reads online news from the manila standard and the manila bulletin. Afterwards, he visits manolo’s blog and spreads the lies he himself has come to believe as gospel truth.

  25. @bystander, let’s not put words in the mouth of another individual. Manuelbuencamino never said the second paragraph that you are theorizing right in front of our eyes.

    Why not ask where he gets his news instead of your own theory? That’s not exactly the basis of an argument, if you can’t even ascertain as to where his information is coming from. It’s as if you’re debating against yourself.

    @Manuelbuencamino, A failure of election has not been properly declared, only through the imagination of Abalos. They have called upon local candidates to come before the National Board of Canvassers if they can provide authentic documents on the elections in Maguindanao.

    Although, Lintang Bedol, the provincial election supervisor for Maguindanao, is nowhere in sight, allegedly in hiding. He is the only one that can explain where the Muncipal Certificate of Canvass and Statement of Votes are. You will recall that no one actually saw the Canvassing in Maguindanao, something which Bedol confirmed as well.

  26. Nick.

    Bystander’s comments were meant for Bencard, not me.

    As to the failure of elections which I was asking Bencard about:

    What Abalos is saying is “Prove to me that there was No failure of elections in Maguindanao. Bring supporting documents.”

    GO says elections occured. Winners were proclaimed. But there was so much padding and shaving the votes should be set-aside.

    I wish the lawyer who keeps abreast of what is happening in the land of his birth could give us his well-thought out legal opinion on the matter.

  27. Bencard,

    I take your comments personal on “puny bloggers”.

    I try my best to post comments regarding how I see the situation in the Philippines without defending personalities like how you defend GMA. While it is true that I still respect the office of the President, it doesn’t means that I totally respect its occupant. If you keep yourself abreast with situation in RP, I suggest you need to research more.

    It pains me so much to see the present ills in RP. We have so many political leaders who are educated abraod, but they are not putting into practice the good things they have learned. The country should have been better after the EDSA revolutions, but, political leaders continue to destroy it. Of course there are exemptions, I wish they can do more for the betterment of the country.

    Instead of defending personalities, why don’t you suggest ways on how to help the country based on your experiences in the USA. You can join advocacy groups to be the watch dog of the masses or join “Gawad Kalinga” if you have not done so.

  28. What’s this tofu (beancurd) and the process of being healed (beencured) all about? I think the more apt monicker is BENTCARD…in deference to David Blaine’s magic card trick…

    This answers the question why gloria is still the president…it’s because of TRICKERY, my dear friends, it’s trickery…

  29. “You are just a puny blogger like everyone else here.”

    My puny middle finger goes to bencard for this statement.

  30. @ManuelBuencamino, I’m seeing double these days…

    Apologies to bystander, I’m always quick to defend against those who try to attack ManuelBuencamino, because I know his views are always well researched and deeply thought out…

    It really doesn’t matter whether or not Bencard is in The Philippines or Abroad. If he chooses to receive his information from a few sources, such as those aligned to the views of Malacanañang, his views are bound to be aligned with Malacañang as well.

    The arguments put forth by GO and Pimentel are convincing,

    “We all want the Magindanao votes counted but in accordance with proper procedure.. that is proper procedure if the submitted documents are tainted and dubious and statistically improbable you exclude since there is no other way to determine the results of Maguindanao without opening the ballot boxes Comelec should proclaim the top 12 and let the affected person protest and open the ballot boxes,”

    Bencard hasn’t replied, probably trying to do some last minute research as to what Maguindanao means… 🙂

  31. supremo, are you sure your stump of a middle finger is as big as your real thing? If not forget it, just go and “obscene” no more.

  32. o.k., buencamino, here’s my take on maguindanao. as far as cheating is concerned, it is not an isolated place, and if accusations are to be given any credence, even NCR is not beyond suspicion. in a land of false witnesses and fabricated evidence, anything goes. every proof offered must be tested and retested for veracity. Abalos is within his right to demand credible evidence of failure of election. remember the difference between fact and perception or speculation? just because the “evidence” being offered is shocking does not necessarily mean its true.

  33. Bencard, way to step up to the plate there buddy. You could’ve been talking about any place in the Philippines there.

    Bedol has already admitted no one saw the provincial canvass. Even in that situation, you already have a “Failure of The Comelec”…

    Evidence has already been submitted, but with the slow pace of The Comelec to “investigate”, even going so far as to form an almost legitimate front of Task Force Maguindanao, the type of investigations that you want does not exist. Videos, testimony, and affidavits won’t do anything to budge, as the inquirer editorial puts it, the “glacier like” movement of Abalos and his Comelec.

    Your vague rebuttal is laughable.

    Let me follow your logic and say, just because Comelec is offering an investigation doesn’t mean they are or will conduct one…

    As I’ve said before, the special elections is Plan B.

  34. puny brained bencard,

    At least my real thing can stand UP to scrutiny. When was the last time your arguments and your real thing stood UP to anything?

  35. nick, then what’s the problem? if everyone is convinced that there was a “failure of election” in Maguindanao, and the votes should be nullified, the logical and legal course of action is to have a special election. We don’t want to disenfranchise a whole region just because there are election cheaters within its boundaries, do we?

    and why would such a special election be regarded as a diabolical plot or conspiracy by the comelec? abalos is not the comelec and the comelec is not beholden to malacanang. it is an independent constitutional body. even assuming that abalos is a “stooge” of GMA, would all the other commissioners, officers and employees of comelec necessarily be? is it so bereft of decent and honest personnel? who’s afraid of special election? only those who are afraid of their own shadows, and possessed of instantaneous sense of entitlement.

  36. Bencard, perhaps you may be the only individual who still has faith in The Comelec to pursue actions independently of Malacañang. The fact that certain officials have not been reprimanded, but instead has been promoted to key regions is almost too glaring of the partisan politics of Comelec. The fact that they haven’t even issued an arrest warrant for Lintang Bedol is almost sickening. The fact that they have harassed media is yet another reason. And are you speaking of keeping Joselito Cayetano as a candidate as a fair decision, or their foot dragging on his case as fair?

    Don’t put words into the mouths of everyone. A failure of election is not the consensus here. The consensus is a failure of Comelec.

    Whether or not a failure of election can even be declared by Comelec in the first place is what Manuelbuencamino was asking you, which you haven’t answered thus far, skirting away from an answer, by throwing pure rhetoric as to why shouldn’t there be a Special Elections. The question is, what is the legal premise, Mr. Lawyer Sir.

    From the incidents going far back as the 2004 election, to the promotion of key ‘Garci Officials’, to the foot dragging being done on the ‘investigation’ of Maguindanao.. it’s almost too shocking that the Comelec can get away with all these actions..

    Abalos’ plan to conduct special elections in the province is also morally dubious. Why? Because Abalos has failed to determine what went wrong — and yet pledges to prevent a recurrence just the same.

    The simple answer for you Bencard, because you fail to scrutinize the situation, is to follow the illogical Abalos, and call for a special election, even before realizing what the hell happened there in the first place.

    Is it too hard for you to fathom as well, that another special election would only yield the results of a cheating machinery gone haywire? Are you basing your proof of decency in The Comelec ranks in this clean and honest election that they have presided over thus far?

    Again, your vague rebuttals are noted. But not agreed with.

  37. The reason why election is conducted is one single day and the counting of votes are done after all the polls are officially closed and advance polls are not counted in Advance is not to allow any other arrangements influence the process. My opinion on Maguindanao votes, now that the last two slots in the slate for senator are still up for grabs, that the special election would not be the “true” reflection of the choice of the voters in the areas as their votes will now, be subject to the influence of the already known results.

    Now the precedent, Canada has 5 different Time Zones with 5 hours difference from Atlantic to Pacific. The reason why the canvassing in the Atlantic which closes 5 hours earlier can not be published publicly or broadcast to other provinces where voting is still in progress, because if the “trend” is already known to the other voters still to cast their votes, it will influence their true choice, or even for some will just don’t ever consider voting for knowing that their Party is way ahead or way behind.

    Solutions, declare a failure of elections, no special election and arrange for local election later on if the Comelec can convinced itself that it can conduct a Proper One. Or let the courts resolve the issue… that’s just me….

  38. news of lintang bedol et al plus election fraud reeks of the hello, garci scandal the comelec has never washed off from its credibility status.

    the same hello, garci which speaks of gloria possessed with instantaneous sense of entitlement and which remains part of gloria’s shadows up to the present.

  39. Bencard,

    Trust the idea of vic and listen to nick.

    Chairman Abalos and company should declare a failure of elections there period. It will be just a waste of money & time to conduct a special election there. The country needs to move on and attempt to solve the problems of the nation.

  40. Vic, your reason is just just one of the key points why the GO, pimentel, and even Zubiri is not favoring a special election.

    You don’t need to declare a failure of election, you just need to set aside the votes, and have a filing of election protest later on if a candidate wishes to do so. (this is what Pimentel is suggesting) A declaration of failure of election will necessitate a special election.

    The fact that local officials have been declared, and that no one has filed a petition for a failure of election, are just some of the key reasons why a special election is improbable.

    But the Comelec would rather go the easy way, instead of investigating itself as to what really has happened in Maguindanao. Bedol is just one of reasons why Maguindanao has seen a “failure of Comelec”, Sumalipao should also be blamed since he is regional director for ARMM, and the Comelec and the Administration in general for its lack of leadership and transparency in not cleaning house. The fact is that they don’t have any incentive to clean house, because the current state of affairs will favor them especially when it comes to Mindanao.

    It is no one else to blame for the current disenfranchisement, except the Comelec and the Administration for its lack of leadership, transparency, and honesty in holding an election and hiring the right individuals to oversee it.

    The only reason Maguindanao is so heavily being scrutinized is the fact that that the citizen groups have fully committed to guard the votes and that the cheats were stupid enough to have 19 candidates with zero votes. Completely idiotic, they can’t even cheat right.

  41. bencard, ang tindi ng putok ng butse mo. For an outside observer, ultra ang pasyon mo. Parang di galing sa isang observer lang. Parang galing sa isang taong may ganansya ang dating.

  42. “People move forward if they aren’t continuously haunted by their unresolved past.”

    But if that is the case, Janie, no one will be able to move forward. Becuase everybody has unresolved past.

    Like it the country and people other than you are moving forward with or with out Gloria. Im sure even Gloria is moving forward with or without the presidency…..

  43. “As soon as she grows up and respects the Constitution and the rule pf law”

    Then thats makes you both LOSER!

  44. I’ve heard an interesting explanation as to why Maguindanao has a clean 12-0 slate. I’m not from the place so I don’t know the veracity of this statement, but if true, it does make an interesting observation of the peculiarities of each and every region in the Philippines.

    Maguindanao is made up of a staunchly hierarchical and fundamentalist Muslim society. They have a very rigid social order with their leaders having the power to dictate how the populace would vote. Anyone who does otherwise would be castigated, ostracized and banned from the community. Hence, Maguindanao has a 98% voter turnout, as compared to the national batting average of something around 40 to 60%. If you don’t vote, someone goes to your house and makes you. If you don’t vote the way they want you to, they will make you a pariah in the community. Nobody talks to you, nobody includes you in parties, nobody allots a share to you in case some goods arrive from outside of town.

    Plus, you have to consider that Maguindanao is a very rural and very provincial place, with almost no television sets, no subscriptions to national newspapers, and no public means of information dissemination except for the radio, which could very well be used for spouting propaganda. Have any of you ever been in a real barrio setting? Are you aware that a lot of people in the Philippines know anything about the issues and are blind, deaf and dumb about what goes on in Manila? Are you further aware that in a lot of rural communities, their leaders just hand them a sample ballot with P20 attached to it, and these people will just copy whatever is written down without any idea as to who they’re voting for, how they stand in national issues, and how qualified they are for the positions they are running? That’s how blindly they trust their leaders. It’s a sad fact, but the truth is, that’s just the way their society is structured.

    I believe that this is a very plausible and real reason as to why TU got a clean 12-0 slate in Maguindanao. I tell you I was very amused when I saw for myself the Maguindanao certificate of canvass during the national canvassing. I’ve never seen so many zeroes in my life.

    Basically folks, I suggest that to have an enlightened stand on the facts behind the figures, the newsmakers and public voices in Manila should go out to Mindanao and see for themselves the reality of their living. And I do mean go out to thickly Muslim-populated areas and with your own eyes see what’s happening beyond the four walls of the National Capital Region. You’d be surprised to find how different everything else is from the life that you know.

    Living in the Visayas, I’ve been to Zamboanga del Norte for six times already. I’ve had Muslim friends and classmates in school and I’ve talked to a Christian lawyer who grew up in Muslim Marawi. I’ve heard a lot of stories about the generation-spanning Muslim vendetta, about how corruption as we would term it would be an honorable matter to our Southern brothers, and about how much of Mindanao’s potential is wasted because of the peculiarities of their prevalent culture (and this very last statement coming from a Muslim himself).

    With this in mind, I think a clean 12-0 slate is possible. And then I remember the words of Ping Lacson’s election lawyer spoken to the COMELEC Special Body during the national canvassing and it always brings tears to my eyes every time I remember it, but that was because I laughed so hard that I cried.

    “Paano ba yan your honor? Kahit man lang limang boto binigay sa amin, okay na sana, di na kami magprotesta. Pero ZERO! Wala! Kahit pa naman consuelo, hindi pa binigay?” 🙂

  45. you know what i think guys? i think the single reason the hate- Gloria club cannot muster enough support for its cause (to get PGMA by means fair or foul)is that it cannot try to make a point without being obnoxious. it has the annoying habit of shooting the messenger for the message he bears, obviously unsure of its capacity to challenge the message.

    no wonder the GMA haters always had to resort to name calling, insults, derision (sheepish laughter as from someone who slipped on a banana peel), mockery, gloating, attempted satire that doesn’t and cannot work, fighting words, and, sometimes, obscenities that could only result from ill-breeding.

    my views and opinion are open to challenge anytime but no one, but no one has any right to accuse me of being paid for it.