Club 56

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.

The data I put up there, is attached here, too: it has House (1907 onwards) and Senate (1941 onwards) results. It covers basically every election from 1907 to 2004.

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.

In light of the above, even Cebu doesn’t seem to be delivering:
See also the number-crunching by The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile and

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.

And HusBy and kevin_033054 offer their views, too, as to the motivations behind the Comelec order (and why the Palace is concerned, see blue_warlock).

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.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

68 thoughts on “Club 56

  1. Doc Bautista, in his blogsite, mentions that one of the reasons that he lost is where people “….refuse to take our handbills because they were ordered by their religious superiors to toe the church line or face damnation”. Hmmmmmm…

  2. …same obstructionism to undermine and make GMA look bad lest she be able to annoint a successor of her choice – Bencard May 18th, 2007 at 8:44 am

    This election has shown that GMA can threaten her political opponents by anointing him/her as ‘successor of her choice‘.

  3. Impeachment is so 2006. Now that we have fresh blood in the Senate, I expect a re-energized opposition and a certain bloodlust to go for the kill. They should take lessons from Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who are dismantling the GOP/Neocon dreadnought one hearing at a time. Pelosi has the acumen, impeachment is so instant that it is almost a blessing for the perps. You have to savor the moment while the bastards squirm during cross examination.
    Patience eventually pays, first it was Rumsfeld, today its Wolfowitz, tomorrow maybe Gonzo. And Dubya, he must be in agony.
    Same for Gloria and her henchmen, their evasion from comeuppance can only go far. As a marine sniper once said, “You can run, but you only die tired.”

  4. Speaking of Comelec:

    Does anybody have any theories on the Garci dagdag-bawas methodology? Was it with EXCEL spreadsheets that got lost? Was it hired programmers goosing the numbers? How many provinces were affected? Did any senator lose because of the Garci?

  5. UPn Student, from the Hello Garci tapes, it seemed to involve a lot of coordination between the national level where Gloria Arroyo’s dictates her general requirements (i.e. ‘it cannot be less than 1M‘) and specific instructions (e.g. ‘yung dagdag, yung dagdag‘). The local level is where the tasks are carried out. The tapes reveal that operations were conducted in Mindanao, specifically the ARMM and involved the military (including Esperon) and Comelec staff. It also involved getting the sympathies of the local NAMFREL specifically the Municipal COC’s. As for Senators who may have been helped, Barbers’ name was mentioned in the tapes but he still lost. I suppose spreadsheets like excel are involved but more in the planning and private monitoring stages. The focus would have been on the election documents themselves, i.e. those that Pangilinan and Gonzalez ‘noted’.

  6. jm & cvj,

    please visit Philippine Entertainment Portal:


    voters’ enlightened choice (re: actors et al) may still be a work in progress.

  7. CVJ, you and Abalos are on entirely different planes. You’re talking of impeaching him (I agree!), but he is talking of his legacy when he retires in 2010! Apparently in his eyes he’s done a swell job at the Comelec.

  8. cvj: don’t care much about names nor places; we’re looking for the method; also cost and number of layers in the implementing organization — but after all the time past, not a single detail has come out.

  9. After all the time past, not a single detail has come out, not even a “If I were Garci, this is how i would have done it” expose.

  10. The lack of automation for vote-counting is insane. Once the precinct-level count has been certified, having the numbers roll up to the city-, provincial-, regional- and national level can be done in a manner that provides both speed, integrity, and visibility. Check-digits can be used so that instances where a 182,453 vote-count becomes 82,453 gets flagged automatically.
    And if the software and technology is in France or India, then buy. Maski-paps made-in-the-Philippines can be much more expensive than the country can afford.

  11. The cat: “Wanna bet, there is no impeachment?”

    Obviously you can only see, and will only bet on, what is obvious… 🙂

    Not at this time when the tally board shows 8 Go and we all know that the only platform of GO is impeachment.

    Remove those blinders. 🙁

  12. Pagalingan ba manghula ang labanan dito ngayon? Aba’y tawagin na sina Madam Auring et al!

    There will most probably no impeachment, but shouldn’t the question be: should there be an impeachment?

    Jusme, madali naman manghula. Eh manindigan kaya?

  13. ay_naku: the impeachment case should be a lot stronger the day someone publishes the mechanics of Garci dagdag-bawas.

    But it looks like them who know the secret are not sharing. It is like the Mission-Impossible line: “I can tell you, but then I’ll have to kill you”.
    I’ve also heard along the theme of a schoolteacher-to-grade-one-kid that IT is “… too complicated for the child to understand”.

  14. UPn Student, I think at this point we’re all mostly aware of the mechanics of the Garci dagdag-bawas. We’ve heard the tapes, the explanations from the parties concerned, the Newsbreak (excellent piece of reporting) and other media investigations on the matter, and using our best judgment, we’ve mostly concluded that GMA did indeed cheat big-time. We’re also aware about the extents GMA went to cover her ass — lots of illegal manueverings (and eventually being rebuffed by the SC several times), harassment, bribery, etc.

    And yet none of those seemed to matter come impeachment voting time.

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