Congressmen of the Caribbean

The story broke on a Sunday, guaranteed to occupy the AM radio shows in the morning: It’s Cebu’s Garcia vs De Venecia in speakership fight. Intramurals, this early? More accurately, early-bird extortion. One congressional spouse explained it to me this way: “It’s all hao siao.” Perhaps that is how statements like Charter-change bid seen to take back seat in next 3 years or “Chamber change and not Charter change is the immediate and urgent clamor at this time,” should be taken -a bla bla bla smokescreen.

You can continue comparing the Namfrel and Comelec counts, but here’s why the Namfrel count’s more a reflection of reality: you only get to add Cebu’s votes once, which the Comelec just did. But it did so without canvassing the results from Manila and Quezon City (and one has to ask why the delay). The Namfrel count has a more equitable distribution of votes, so it’s more reflective of the relative weight of the votes. See their breakdown below:

Senators By Province

But Placeholder says, some questions over the votes of the worst-performing candidates need to be answered, though. A Mindanews report on the counting in Davao City and on counting in Kidapawan City points to the problem (the losers, and gainers, from vote-padding and shaving). And Namfrel is saddled with the problem of being denied essential election documents.

Overview of the recently-concluded voting in Lanao del Sur (see also Mindanao Examiner’s report, while Marichu Lambino was quite frustrated by ANC’s coverage). Lanao seems to have gone 7-3-2: or at least, in Marawi City. Ryan Rosauro on how difficult it is to figure out just exactly how many voters there are in Lanao del Sur. Newsbreak says operators were busy there:

Meanwhile, operators for four senatorial candidates-three from Team Unity and one from the Genuine Opposition-moved only recently to buy votes for their clients, the two sources said. We are withholding the names of these candidates.

The operators disclosed that they demanded a 50-percent downpayment from candidates who wanted to buy votes. The rate had risen to P50 per vote for the party-list race and P10 per vote for the senatorial race.

If these operators are to be believed, they already know the results of the just-concluded special elections in the province.

Romulo Neri says the Peso is “uncomfortably strong.”

My column for today is Calabasa and the counting.

Amando Doronila explains why the Lanao vote’s so crucial. It’s interesting that both he and Tony Lopez (who suddenly seems to have abandoned boosting the President), who have long experience in finding the public pulse and figuring out the results of elections (they’ve been commenting on them since the premartial law days) both agree the result’s 8-2-2.

Doronila says,

The Senate results are the outcome the Arroyo administration would rather not see and would like the rest of the nation to ignore to substantiate its claim that it had received a vote of confidence on the strength of local results….

The administration lost Manila with the defeat of Mayor Lito Atienza’s son, Ali, by Sen. Alfredo Lim as reelectionist Mayor Jejomar Binay scored a landslide win in Makati, the center of the opposition in Metro Manila. These two triumphs have broadened the opposition base in Metro Manila, reducing the electoral importance of a third key city, Quezon City, which returned Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte as mayor…

Even on the level of local and House elections, the poll results show the political map nationwide has been redrawn to indicate the weakened control by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on key local electorates. The erosion of this base does not warrant confidence that the President is secure from renewed impeachment attempts in the next Congress, or from urban unrest, given that both Manila and Makati are now in opposition hands.

The redrawn map, taken together with the Mindanao results in determining the final outcome of the Senate vote, undermines the President’s thesis that the local election results have defined decisively the issue of her renewed mandate to govern the way she has been ruling.

If we examine more closely the changes in the local election results, it becomes obvious that the mandate as a vote of confidence from the local results is at best hollow and a delusion.

The Senate elections are decided on overarching national issues, giving the results there a strong national character. They aggregate the issues, which local elections do not.

These midterm elections have offered us two visions or interpretations of the national mandate and the magnitude of the devastating disaster that hit the administration.

This is why Ms Arroyo is fighting tooth and nail to change the final outcome through the Lanao del Sur vote, and why that election is so tremendously important to us. The outcome there transcends the issue of whether she can be impeached or not.

While Lopez writes,

There are a number of reasons why 2007 is one of the best elections ever.

First, the exercise saw tradition pitted against technology, a century-old manual counting system against a 21st-century exit poll and media count, and a deliberately clueless, if not shameless Comelec against a raging electorate. The result was an exciting and thrilling battle with an almost unpredictable outcome. By the way, thanks to Comelec incompetence, this year’s poll has one of the lowest turnouts-55 percent, 25 million out of 45 million voters.

Second, the people defied conventional wisdom and exerted their will. They twitted the administration’s vaunted political machinery, the Comelec’s shameless partiality, the military and the police’s complicity, and unprecedented widespread cheating and vote-buying to choose who they think are best for them.

The result is an 8-2-2 victory for the opposition and independents in the Senate race, the defeat of vice lords in Pampanga, the defeat of Manny Pacquiao and Virgilio Garcillano in their congressional fights, the massive thrashing of a number unqualified actors seeking public office, the fall of a number of political dynasties, and the shaming of Comelec and Ben Abalos before the bar of public opinion.

Manila went to the opposition, Alfredo Lim; Pasay to another oppositionist, Peewee Trinidad; and Makati as expected to opposition leader Jejomar Binay. This means the UNO can have three major venues for protest rallies-Liwasang Bonifacio or Recto in Manila, Ayala Avenue in Makati, and the reclamation area in Pasay. Ousted President Joseph Estrada got nearly all he endorsed to win, except for John Osmeña. Did you know that Erap’s endorsement value is 52 percent in Manila and 36 percent nationwide? Gloria Arroyo’s is negative.

Third, the electorate have already chosen their next generation of leaders, including the next president.

Over the weekend, the Inquirer editorial had a double-barrelled blast, one aimed at Alex Magno in Why the Senate matters:

At this point, advocates of the parliamentary system will begin a numbers game, contrasting the flood of legislation from the House with the trickle from the Senate. But history should have the last say: We wager that, years from now, the Arroyo administration’s assault on our civil liberties, its narrowing of the democratic space, in exchange for continuing political survival, will be recognized as the main narrative defining Philippine politics at the beginning of the 21st century. In that narrative, it will be the Senate, not the House, which will be acclaimed as choosing history’s side.

In the end, Magno’s argument against the Senate rests on the conviction that, well, independence of mind is not a becoming quality of a legislator.

And the other, at candidates still hoping to buck the trend in The lie:

By the administration’s own logic, and Team Unity’s too, the local machinery in, say, Camarines Sur, where the four congressional winners are all administration candidates (Dato Arroyo and Louie Villafuerte among them), should have delivered more votes for the administration’s Senate candidates. But aside from Joker Arroyo, a Bicolano, the list of the top Senate vote-getters looks very familiar indeed: The opposition dominates.

The notion, therefore, that special areas exist in the country, isolated from public opinion and impervious to national trends, is a mirage. The assertion that local machinery will spell the difference for the administration’s Senate candidates is a lie. Unless, of course, what they really mean by machinery is election fraud at the local level, away from prying eyes.

There’s an extremely interesting assertion by Justice Isagani Cruz that the Comelec can proclaim 14, and not 12, senators-elect:

I have a controversial but justifiable suggestion. In addition to the 12 senatorial candidates to be proclaimed as winners for the regular six-year term, the Commission on Elections should also proclaim the candidate who will obtain the 13th place as the winner for the three-year term not served by Senator Lim…

Giving the unexpired three-year term to the candidate who placed 13th in the senatorial race would not only be fair and economical but also avoid another divisive political campaign for just one solitary seat with the 23 others in the Senate. The Constitution envisioned that chamber with a full complement of 24 members, and its deliberate reduction by mere statute would be unconstitutional. So too, I submit, would a failure to correct its incompleteness, such as by the process I suggest that should be presumed as constitutional unless the Supreme Court disagrees.

While we are considering this matter, let me reiterate my argument that the repeal of Sec. 67 of the Omnibus Election Code by Sec. 14 of the Fair Election Act is invalid for being a mere “rider” in violation of Art. VI, Sec. 26(1) of the Constitution providing that “every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.” The Fair Election Act deals only with political advertising, like TV commercials and election posters. It has nothing to do with forfeiture of original offices upon the filing of certificates of candidacy for different offices as provided for in Sec. 67.

If this view is sustained by the Supreme Court, Senator Lapid will be considered as having also forfeited his Senate seat when he ran for mayor of Makati. The 14th placer among the senatorial candidates this year should then also be proclaimed, to fill the vacancy created by Lapid’s defeat.

In the blogosphere, The Lost Filipino has a very provocative view on why the Peso’s stronger: it’s all a conspiracy hatched at the top! Read on:

Although recent reports have indicated that the peso is getting stronger than the dollar, certain quarters along the way are manipulating their turf to run after residues of this stronger peso purposely to gain or regain losses. This would certainly tend to increase interest rates on borrowings and the tendency to plunge back the peso again into its former scale. Other business quarters have instigated to fuel prices on basic commodities as well as on petroleum products purposely to cut through the residue of a stronger peso and eventually save a certain percentage of its gain as a reserve for future peso shocks! Of course, this would include dollar salters who would be keeping a shorter pace of not exposing its big reserves kept in secret chambers either in the house, certain bodega, container, underground vault, special deposit boxes in the bank, in a plastic bag, or travelling bag, or even in comfort rooms! These are special venues of depositing hidden wealth where government agents have been spying to but to no avail. Or they would just have to remain in secret and at bay for future works or so.

Anyway, the Central Bank is still in the mode of trying to augment its dire need of dollars to sustain the increasing demand outside the country. Economists would likely view this event as a time of comprehensive savings for the future. In this time, importation is given the leeway to crack into the economy the needed resources like garments and technological accessories. It’s shopping time for the whole country! Take the supplies while it lasts. Thus, a stronger peso means a lot of imported goods that can be purchased to be pump out into the consuming public. Sacks of the rice can be imported from Vietnam or China in a least possible price available in order to sustain the ever-increasing demand of rice in the market place, because the local rice granaries could no longer meet the stiff scale of producing rice to sustain the food reserves, it is time to do the marketing for their goods until the warehouse is full. Of course, local marketers would still be humming around the corner while awaiting prices to go up.

This would play down the line the energy conservation bill of the government and condition the whole country for a greater endeavor that may follow when the election is over. All set for the “Chacha Movement” while militant groups are trimming their ways to counter any move from the government. The vertical arena is now set for a new perspective! No one yet is allowed to play at the ground, until all is ready.

Well, my friends, these are the scenarios that I could possibly draw when the election is over and new set of 12 Senators will be coming in to the Senate Chamber and new or old Congressmen will be setting the House of Representatives in order come July 2007 and get started with legislative agenda that will pump out again the reserved money out of its savings status. This would certainly generate new upheavals among militant groups who are always cued when to move and when to stop. The political screen is on again to put into the centerstage the decision made by the people during the May 14, 2007 elections.

we have no names says two major forces in Philippine society are headed for a collision. Patsada Karajaw recounts a revealing political anecdote:

My good friends in Agusan del Norte told me this rather revealing tale. Sometime before the last elections, they say, the Amantes and the Plazas were summoned in Malacanang to tresh out everything. It was agreed in that meeting that both of them should give up their respective fights; leave Agusan del Norte to the Amantes and Butuan City to the Plazas.

That is why a mayoral candidate was surprised why the :fundings” were ordered stopped and withdrawn at the last minute. Another consitutent also observed that the “funding” was deliberately delayed in his town, prompting him to suspect somethings fishy is going on.

Demosthenes’ Game proposes a hybrid form of voting that he calls Perhaps a Way Out, and delves into it further in Net Approval Voting. Less exotic but as interesting is veas9’s analysis of presidential elections.

Kat in the Hat recounts what it’s like to be a Namfrel volunteer. See Guardians of the Ballot for an overview by the PCIJ of electoral watchdogs.

Aaron Mickelson is a new Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines: read his observations on life in the Philippines. Very entertaining.

YugaTech (thanks to him for quickly and efficiently attending to this blog being hacked over the weekend!) writes on what’s it’s like to survive a libel case.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

43 thoughts on “Congressmen of the Caribbean

  1. mlq3:

    oh humour. you’re really getting at all the palace boosters’ goats now, sir.

    my question is why Abalos decided to forego the early proclamation over the weekend?

  2. from inq:

    Japan’s farm minister commits suicide over political scam

    Agence France-Presse
    Last updated 01:36pm (Mla time) 05/28/2007

    (UPDATE) TOKYO — Japan’s farm minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who has been embroiled in a scandal over political donations, died Monday after a suicide attempt, police said.

    “He died at 2:00 p.m. (0500 GMT),” a police spokesman said.

    The minister had faced allegations that he reported large utility expenses for a government office building.”

    and how we wish our officials will follow his path. but no, pinoy agri-scammer instead gets patting from his fellow rotarians who mouth empty allegiances to 4-way truth test.

  3. something is wrong with the namfrel doument. coseteng is the topnotcher in my province. not possible!

  4. tonio,

    im not sure.
    also, noynoy aquino is running neck and neck with victor wood. lol.

  5. Parang padami nang padami ung uncanvassed votes from Abalos , last week 4M ngayon 6M na.. tsk tsk tsk next week nyan 10M na siguro.

  6. I was just wondering how come the candidates/parties do not know whether they won or not. Don’t hey have their own quick counts?

    Aren’t they supposed to have carbon copies of the same documents upon which the results are based?

  7. MLQ,
    Your column, bring us back to the issue of how important the courses of Math to our Educational Institutions. Just imagine, the only numbers these canvassers and all involve in tallying the Votes that were cast what seem like an eternity, is the “Peso”, that for sure they can figure out perfectly and very quick. Left alone, grade school pupils could have done all the countings by now.

  8. It’s really time for computerization. If we try to simplify things, we can see that without computerization the voting is rigged. With computerization, the voting might be rigged. Might as well computerize it so that even if the results are rigged we have the results faster! Then we can work on making the computerized system “un-riggable”.

  9. well after the recent debacle with all of those never-used counting machines, will a computerization effort make it for 2010?

    after the all the maneouvrings after this elections, will we even have a poll to computerize?

  10. No wonder some people call Villafuerte, “Villabuwitre”. Hat tip to schumey for that.

  11. Click on the graphic MLQ provided. Look at the number of votes for Chavit Singson in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan and other “Ilocano” provinces. The favorite son of Ilocanos didn’t do too well. He did better in Maguindanao.

    Chavit would do well to migrate to Maguindanao. They love him more over there.

  12. TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Japan’s agricultural minister died Monday after reportedly hanging himself just hours before he was to face questioning in parliament over a political scandal, officials said.

    Jocjoc, wherever you are, dont even think about it because we know you wouldn’t do it anyway… just step up to the Senate’s witness stand and spill all the bloody beans.

    Sorry…off-topic pero timely e. 🙂

  13. I was just wondering how come the candidates/parties do not know whether they won or not. Don’t hey have their own quick counts?

    Because elections are not won in the precinct level. The real elections happen when the bidding by the so-called Operators starts.

    The Lanao/Maguindanao results are indeed crucial as pointed out by Doronila because Zubiri, Recto, Pichay and even Defensor need those votes to cut Pimentel’s lead. With greater effort (and higher bid), the TU trailers can even overcome Trillanes and Cayetano at 10-11th spot.

    The elections won’t be over until Abalos is satisfied with the results. There’s still a lot of work to do because obviously, the scheme to derail Alan Peter’s chances did not meet the desired results. Lagot sya sa Malacañang.

  14. Weird talo pa ni Peter Cayetano si Allan Cayetano.

    Mahusay talaga ang Malacanang.

  15. Kung computerized sana tayo pwede na natin pag botohan kung anong parusa pwede gawin ke Abalos.

  16. Computerization of Votings and Countings, and even registration and keeping records of voters’ list may make life easier for the Elections peoples and voters, but would it minimize or prevent cheatings and frauds? I doubt it very much, if fraudsters and cheaters remain free instead of being in jails and punish to the fullest.

    I had experience the complete transition of our process from full manual to full automation, and besides of the improvement of a permanent voters’ list and an hour or two quicker in counting, everything just about the same, including the looks of the ballot, where we still mark the X for the candidate of our choice. It will be easier for the Election workers, since the counting are all done by the machines instead of them, but just the same, the ballots are retained in cases when someone cry Cheatings!! so far less than two had done so far. And I’m not bragging…

  17. whoa vic, you’ve been in Canada a long time. i went home before i was able to get the status to vote. my sister voted PC in the last election (well, that’s my sister… hahah)

  18. tonio pagod,

    yeah, been here for ages now and soon to retire, payback time, so they say. Anyways, I am a card carrying member of the Tories (We changed the name to Conservatives Party of Canada)after the reconciliation with the Reforms, and the former Progressive Conservatives which broke up after the decimation of our party during the post Mulroney era and the succession of Miss Campbell and one election we won only two seats out of 308. Now we are back in Government, albeit a minority, and hope to win the majority next election. Want to contribute? tell your sister. 75 % tax credit for up to $500…

  19. The death of the Japanese Agri Minister is timely for Chairman Abalos to ponder. I hope he can still sleep soundly at night.

    Chairman Abalos can redeem himself by not listening to Malacanang.

  20. camry,

    “I hope he can still sleep soundly at night.”

    His bed is well-feathered by now/

  21. mlq3. calling a failed prediction (while it puts eggs on the face of the predictor) a lie is a stretch. How many times did the opposition predicted that GMA was finished; that her days in malacanang were numbered, that another Edsa of hundreds of thousand of people will kick her out of office; that the “hyatt 10” would be the catalyst for her downful; that the so-called black & white movement against GMA would snow ball all over the country; that the GO would “sweep” the 2007 elections; etc., etc., only to bite the dust over and over again. those predictions were not lies, but mere unrealized aspirations of those who hates her. So is the failed wish for a “command vote”.

  22. winston garcia is like a junior fg. he, alone, is already an impeachable charge against gma. it would be safer to have a jdv as house speaker than his dad.

  23. mb,

    Don’t tell me the “feathers” were those of SARS infected fowls from China?

  24. Bencard,

    if the projected 8-2-2 for the GO is not a sweep, what is?

    And it sure does make sense to see the only national race in this year´s elections – the senatorial one – as a referendum on the present administration.

  25. re: “There’s an extremely interesting assertion by Justice Isagani Cruz that the Comelec can proclaim 14, and not 12, senators-elect:…”

    indeed quite interesting…

    i have no problems with zubiri and recto in the senate as well. and to you guys who will comment on recto and zubiri, keep it to yourselves. talk is cheap.

    the more the merrier…

  26. Xavier,

    Although I didn’t vote for them, I have no problem with Recto and Zubiri joining the Senate provided it is the real will of the people – meaning, they don’t cheat to get there.

  27. MLQ3,

    That Newsbreak revelation is shocking.

    Our elections are a total disgrace. The Philippine situation is just so gobsmackingly pathetic in the extreme – I just can’t believe how low the Philippines has become!

    Even war-torn Afghanistan had a lot more credible and infinitely more lawful election in their 2005 National Assembly and Provincial Council Elections.

    The Afghans exercised more civility during the voting and followed due process in counting the votes during that election period when millions of voters across the country exercised their democratic rights to elect legitimate representatives to institutions that would govern the country at national and provincial level for the coming years. There were no gun toting goons that threatened voters nor rampant vote buying, padding, shaving, hocus pocusing…

    How extremely nauseating the Philippine politics and Philippine institutions have become under the command of this horrible cheat – from top to bottom, all the same! How these so-called educated people, God fearing people, purporting to be civilized and democratic have all hit rock bottom!

  28. “There’s an extremely interesting assertion by Justice Isagani Cruz that the Comelec can proclaim 14, and not 12, senators-elect:…”

    There’s just 1 problem. The electorate were only asked to vote for 12 senators. If I was asked to write down 2 more candidates, I would probably write down 2 candidates from Kapatiran. Other voters might vote for 12 TUs and 2 GOs or vice versa. The results would be totally different from what we have now.

  29. hi mlq3: if there is anyone who should be involved in making sure exporters get the support they need as the peso appreciates rapidly, it should be Neri as socioeconomic planning secretary, don’t you think?

    I’ve been watching global markets for the last, oh 10 years or so. Clearly the peso’s appreciation is not an isolated event. It’s driven by the dollar’s weakness. Everyone’s affected. That’s why I don’t believe all the conspiracy theories going around.

  30. Computerization of Votings and Countings, and even registration and keeping records of voters’ list may make life easier for the Elections peoples and voters, but would it minimize or prevent cheatings and frauds? I doubt it very much, if fraudsters and cheaters remain free instead of being in jails and punish to the fullest.

    That’s where the real fraud is or was… Abalos made sure the computerization would fail by rigging the bids. The ‘Operators’ would surely have a hard time tampering with the results, what with their limited digital instincts.

    Can you imagine how the Garci conversation would have transpired if the elections were computerized as early as 2004?

    “GMA: Hello, Garci? …E yung pagpataas? …yung pagpataas ng 1M?”

    “Garci: Sorry Ma’am, di na po ma-overwrite e, na-upload na sa server, na-transmit na po. Computerized na kasi e, di ko masyado ma-gets…”

  31. vic:

    thanks for the info, i’ll make sure to let my sister know (if she doesn’t know already, she was always the more politically active among us). whereabouts in Canada are you? to give you an idea of where we’re from, we voted for Hurricane Hazel (again) last year. 🙂


    i had a feeling this was going to be brought up by one of our legal experts sooner or later. but how can one justify the election of the 13 and 14?



    “M’am… may firewall daw, blocked yung packets galing sa atin… ah, ewan ko po ba!”

  32. The computerization law has been signed. That’s where we’re going and even if cheaters can’t be stopped 100% it’s a better alternative than the cheating and chaos done the old way. As tagabukid said, making sure that no computerization is implemented in the 2007 elections is another sin that Abalos has to pay for. Might be part of Gloria’s grand scheme of things.

  33. “Clearly the peso’s appreciation is not an isolated event. It’s driven by the dollar’s weakness. Everyone’s affected. That’s why I don’t believe all the conspiracy theories going around.” – salve

    Neither do I all those credit-grabbing claims of the Arroyo government.

  34. toniong pagod,
    I voted against Mayor David Miller, and he won. Hurricance Hazel, is just accross the city line. And what a Mayor that Hazel McCallion, been picked as top two world’s best mayor, and do you know she finally gave up her driver’s license and now is driven to work courtesy of her city? she is in her 80s and said can no longer drive safe.

    Tell your sis, that she can contribute on line, any amount will do. And remember, she’ll get back 75% in tax refunds and thanks….

  35. shaman, oh yeah. The government’s so quick to take credit for anything. Oh well, I guess there’s nothing new there.

  36. PGMA ran for the Vice Presidency 1998 while she still had 3 more years as a Senator.

    I don’t recall a 13th Senator winning in 1998 to take her place in the Senate.

  37. jl, one more question. what happens when an elected official still has remaining years in his/her current elected position and run and lost for another, can she or he goes back and serve the rest of the mandate?

    We have a policy that when a politician run for another position (other than re-election) he or she has to resign the current elected position first. No such thing as double dipping.

  38. Vic,

    At present, such can happen when there are intervening terms like the Senate members (and probably the Barangay officials but their terms and elections are frequently altered by law that I don’t know when the next barangay elections are) who serve for 6 years while most elective officialdom serve for 3 years.

    It can also happen for the president and VP but they are hardly expected to relinquish their present office to run for another intervening official’s term.

    Raul Roco ran for President while still having another 3 years in the Senate in 1998. Unlike then Sen. Gloria Arroyo who won for the VP, Roco lost but was not removed as a Senator and even played his role as a juror in the impeachment of the winner of the Presidency at that time.

    Justice Cruz says that Art. 67 of the Omnibus Election code addresses that wherein one would be stripped of the elected post (consequently losing whatever years the official still has left) if one ran for a different post.

    He also stated that it was repealed but the repeal was somewhat illegal in manner.

    The SC however will not rule on this unless someone presents this case before them.

  39. Vic,

    BTW, both VP De Castro and Sen. Lacson both won as Senators in 2001 and both ran for different posts as VP and President respectively in 2004.

    De Castro became VP while Lacson served out his term in the Senate after he lost.

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