No surprises

Delayed entry today because I’ve started teaching Journalism 105 (Opinion and Editorial Writing) at Letran. So my next 17 Fridays will be eaten up.

The Comelec (surprise, surprise!) proclaims Maguindanao CoCs authentic. The stage is set. There’s no one left to complain -well, except maybe VforCE (Volunteers for Clean Elections) which issued this statement:

Volunteers for Clean Elections (VforCE)

June 21, 2007

We believe there is enough evidence to show no elections were held or that there was a failure of elections in many, if not all, areas of Maguindanao.

During the supposed May 14 elections in Maguindanao, teachers who served as members of the Board of Election Inspectors have claimed they filled up ballots in favor of administration candidates. NAMFREL was not given its copy of election returns. And PPCRV and LENTE volunteers were refused access to many polling areas and canvassing centers.

The Comelec cannot and should not continue insisting that teacher-whistleblowers step forward to personally testify on election irregularities in the province; one has already been killed, two have disappeared, and many are in hiding. Without a climate of trust and security, which the Comelec should first seek to create, witnesses cannot reasonably be expected to expose themselves to great risks. If the Comelec seeks stronger evidence of election irregularities, it should simply open up the ballot boxes as suggested by the teachers themselves.

More significantly, crucial documents to show elections did take place in the province have mysteriously gone missing for over a month now. It has not helped that Team Unity has inexplicably failed to produce its own copy of election returns to support its claim of a 12-0 sweep in the senatorial contest. Even if the missing documents eventually show up, they will be highly suspect and therefore should not be considered at all, for doing so could likewise result in a disenfranchisement of Maguindanaoans.

We, however, reiterate that for any special elections in Maguindanao to be meaningful, truthful and free, the Comelec, the PNP/AFP and the government, as the case may be, must take the following steps:

cancel all gun permits and disarm paramilitary units in the province
deploy the Philippine Marines to ensure peace and order, including the safety of voters, election officers, and watchers
replace local Comelec officials with trusted Comelec personnel from other areas
count ballots in safe and secure areas
ensure the effective participation of watchdog groups and full media coverage, and
undertake voters education activities before the elections.

If special elections cannot be conducted under these circumstances, then no such special elections should be held anymore. In such a situation, we believe that it will be reasonable and acceptable to disregard the votes for senators in Maguindanao. For while it appears that local officials have been voted into office and have in fact already been proclaimed (after all, it takes only one vote for an unopposed candidate to win), the votes for the senatorial positions remain mysteriously unaccounted for. With over a month now since elections have been held, even if they should show up, they should be deemed spurious and should therefore disregarded.

The Department of Justice drops charges versus senator-elect Honasan (surprise, surprise!). Not a surprise: GO: Trillanes unlikely to accept amnesty.

President finally gives her nod (daw): Arroyo committed to De Venecia, says Ilocos Sur solon. As Ferdinand Marcos used to say, “Aw, c’mon.” And as the President’s pet party is saying, too (or members thereof): KAMPI leader: Rep. Singson a liar.

Newsbreak reports on the now-ex-BIR chief:

…To be sure, Buñag has met some of the targets in previous months and quarters. But the agency’s performance is highlighted not only in December, but also in April. For two consecutive years under his watch, the agency missed collection targets.

Already, the shortfalls for the first five months of 2007 pushed the budget deficit to P41 billion. This is P10 billion more than the target for the first six months, or from January to June.

Whenever Buñag missed targets, he blamed others…

…The economic team has been promising to investors and analysts that the Philippines will attain a balanced budget by next year. Fiscal performance is a major consideration when they deliberate whether to upgrade or downgrade the outlook on our foreign debts. A downgrade or upgrade has an implication on our interest rates and foreign exchange rates.

With the balanced budget target next year, spending cuts do not seem to be the priority anymore, based on earlier pronouncements of the economic team. Spending cuts have implications on the ability of the various economic sectors to grow.

Infrastructure spending, for example, has an impact on whether an industry or a specific business can have more revenues.

The goal, therefore, has been to improve tax collection. But Buñag has not delivered.

Meanwhile, Arroyo meets with CEO of software firm about BIR operations. And the embattled Finance Secretary’s daddy goes on the warpath: Teves accuses CA House contingent of extortion racket. With an accusation like that, one can excuse the Senate majority being off to a bad start: Secret balloting to choose Senate prexy goes pfft.

Hope springs eternal: Bare terms of $365M ‘lost’ contract: Roxas. As Ellen Tordesillas puts it, it’s a national shame.

Overseas, Vietnam Gets Tough on School Cheats: and Zimbabwe is imploding -can’t help but agree with David Llorito when he says Philippines has become a normal country with normal problems -and that’s good.

The Inquirer editorial and Amando Doronila comment on the bungled cabinet revamp.

In the blogosphere, in On My Way Home, Martin Bautista says the long count is the whole point -and the whole problem- with elections. Commentary on Miguel Zubiri and Maguindanao comes from The Philippine Experience, from Islander in the City, from Unsent, and

On Trillanes, reflections from Philippine Commentary on the quandary the AFP chief finds himself in; Patsada Karajaw on the perils of making the wrong comparisons; Eush Tayco ponders on who’s been elected, and says while the public will should be respected, one doesn’t have to like it. One person who likes it -Trillanes’ election- is Me and My Political View.

Mackybaka! proposes a special election in October to fill the senate vacancy caused by Alfredo Lim’s election as mayor of Manila. The Lonely Vampire Chronicles on Billy Esposo’s unwarranted fears of Estrada -and suffering political karma.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

51 thoughts on “No surprises

  1. OT here:

    just asking can a division of the NLRC in an inter-union dispute decide a case citing the decision of another co-equal NLRC division decision involving the same parties. Even if the cited case was on appeal at Court of Appeals.
    Im thinking of filing an administrative case against the comisioner for gross ignorance of the law. however, i could not see any Admin matters or resolution from the supreme court that requires legal citation should be limited to cases decided with finality. can anyone help me on this? thanks

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