The President claims a victory because she retains control of the House. But this is a bogus claim, because it is not, by any means, an achievement. In Inquirer Current you can look at past election results and what we can conclude from them.
But let me go into why I say the president can’t claim an achievement in holding on to the House. The reason is, it’s par for the course, and has always been the case. No administration since 1935 has ever lost the House of Representatives in an election, although presidents have lost elections even though their parties held on to the House (the new president would then quickly turn a minority into a majority). That is simply the nature of the House and races on the local level.
Which is why, until this president came along, no previous president to my knowledge, made a fetish of proclaiming control of the House. You do not proclaim the virtues of the unremarkable. And this is why presidents and the public always focused on the senate as the bellweather of the political health of an administration.
In the same Bandila report last night where they exposed the root cause of the 12-0 sweep claimed for Team Unity in Maguindanao (the governor offered a bounty of 1 million pesos for every mayor able to deliver 12-0), the reporters mentioned something called “Club 56.” Apparently, that’s 56 municipalities that the President’s political operators credit for securing them victory in 2004. Tonypet Albano was quick to brandish a list of these municipalities, saying they were all going to produce a 12-0 sweep for Team Unity in the coming days. See Newsbreak and Istambay sa Mindanao for what foreign observers had to say.
Mga Diskurso ni Doy has a good rundown of the implications of the Palace brag about Maguindanao: he says “dagdag-bawas” has been replaced with “dagdag-dagdag”:
Dahil bistado na ang iskimang “dagdag-bawas” na pinasikat ng “hello Garci controversy, may bagong innovation ng pandarayang ipinatutupad ang administrasyon kasabwat ang ilang opisyal ng Comelec at sindikatong mga operador, ang DAGDAG-DAGDAG special Ops. Isang iskimang kay daling isagawa’t hindi gaanong halata kung ikukumpara sa Dagdag-Bawas.
Base sa proseso ng halalan, Una; ang boto ng mamamayan ay unang bibilangin ng Board of Election Inspector (BEI) sa prisinto o sa mga polling place. Panglawa; ang resulta ng bilangan ay nakasulat o nakadokumento sa Election Return (ER) kung saan sinusumite ito upang icamvass sa municipal-city canvasser. Pangatlo; ang resulta sa munisipyo-city canvassing ay ilalagay, isusulat at isusuma sa Certificte of Canvass (COC). Pang-apat; ipapasa o ifoforward ang COC sa Provincial Canvasser na kung saan isusuma ito’t ilalagay sa Provincial Certificate of Canvass (PCOC). Panglima; ipapadala ang PCOC sa PICC (Phil International Convention Center, sa Cultural Center sa Manila) upang isagawa ang huling pagsusuma, ang National Canvassing kung saan bibilangin ang labanan sa Senatoriable at Party List.
Saan maaaring makapenetrate ang DAGDAG-DAGDAG? Dahil sa dami at tindi ng pagbabantay ng poll watchers, mahihirapang isagawa ito sa presinto. Nasa munisipyo’t probinsya o nasa pangalawa hanggang pang-apat isasagwa ang DAGDAG-DAGDAG ops. Tulad din ng dagdag-bawas, ang Election Return pa rin ang siyang pupuntiryahin. Ang kaibhan lang, kung dati rati’y may tinatapyas na boto sa kalaban, sa ngayo’y walang babawasang boto ng mga kandidato (opposition), bagkus magdadagdag na lamang (additional digit o pagdiskrungka ng numero) ng boto sa mga kandidato, specially sa mg administration candidates sa Senate, Party List at Local candidates.
Doy’s talking about what I call the making of the sausage in my column for today, The verdict.
The Inquirer editorial dissects the Comelec’s ordering a stop to media counts, and explains why media counts and exit polls are valuable -and why attacking them makes no sense for this particular administration:
Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, predicted that administration candidates will win six to eight seats. “Just wait till the Visayas and Mindanao votes start coming in,” he said.
Durano was obviously referring to the “command votes” that the administration expects to be delivered by its local candidates, hundreds of whom either faced only token opposition or ran unopposed. But even that vaunted vote-delivery machine seems to have broken down in some places, like Iloilo, Leyte and Eastern Samar, where the promised 12-0 result for Team Unity seems to be vanishing.
To the opposition, Durano’s statement carried an ominous ring. For it was in Mindanao where the opposition believed massive cheating happened in favor of Ms Arroyo in 2004, as the “Hello Garci” tapes tended to show. Thus, where the opposition once saw the polls and quick count as part of an elaborate plot to camouflage the cheating in 2004, now it considers it as some kind of shield against massive fraud. With the polls and the quick counts invariably indicating that the Genuine Opposition would win at least six seats, opposition leaders now believe it would be very difficult for the administration to reverse the trend by cheating.
The irony in this running debate, however, is that by questioning the credibility of surveys and quick counts, the administration is cutting off one argument on which it has anchored its defense of the President against charges she stole the presidency: The surveys showed she would win.
A very good explanation as to why media counts are harmless comes from Not Yet Ready:
What I am pointing here, is that media counts are accurate if you will just look at the Magic 15 and not 12. It is not questionable. With the reasons at the top, one can say that media has played its role to give information to the people PARTIALLY. It may not be a fact, but at least it is accurate. Besides, media are keep saying that the numbers they have are partial and unofficial, well, there’s the reminder.
With the slow counting and canvassing we have here in the Philippines during elections, the Palace should actually thank the media for giving the people accurate information and an idea of the results that takes a month or so before it may be released.
The question here is not the media counts but the Comelec’s order to the networks to submit to them where they got the numbers on their media counts. If it is not another administration trick, why didn’t the Comelec use their commonsense that these counts are unofficial and partial and that media, particularly the ABS-CBN and GMA 7, has been doing these media counts even during the 2004 elections? This is just another proof, after their ruling on Joselito Cayetano’s candidacy, that Comelec has all along been a “puppet” of the administration and we people are all being tricked by the said “generally peaceful elections” we had.
The coming days are crucial, because the resources of candidates to keep their watchers fed and on the clock are running out; people are simply exhausted, too. This weekend is when the main mischief begins. Meanwhile, Tony Abaya points out what he thinks is the good news, this early on, from the elections.
Tony Lopez has an interesting critique of NAMFREL; Julius Fortuna suggests the next battle -to abolish the Senate- has begun, and that Finance Secretary Teves is facing attempts to kick him out of the cabinet before Congress reconvenes.